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Techies look for psychiatrists for counselling

Newindpress.com

Posted: Sep 11, 2004 at 1707 hrs IST

Leena and Manish both working as software professionals, married for a year, have been seeking psychiatric counselling for the past three months.

Their relationship is totally strained as they seldom see each other, working as they are on different shifts.

At least one in every fifteen persons approaching a doctor for psychiatric counselling in the city is either a software professional or working in call centres.

While conclusive data are hard to come by, patient records in many psychiatric clinics seem to reveal an alarming increase in depression, broken relationships and eating disorders among those in these fast-paced professions.

Doctors in the city do confirm that the number of young techies who approach them for counselling has increased rapidly in the past one year.

A recent survey done in Bangalore showed that suicides among software professionals and call center employees is on an alarming rise.

Sneha, a Chennai-based NGO working against suicides has also recorded a rise in the number of professionals completely bogged down by stress and on the brink of insanity.

Leena and Manish are the lucky ones as they could seek a doctor’s help. Doctors say that social stigmas stop a vast majority from even visiting their clinics.

Psychiatric counsellor Brinda Jayaraman says that a majority of those who consult her are couples who have strained relationships due to tough work schedules and poor inter personal skills. "

They are wedded to their work and it becomes even worse when both partners do the same kind of job," she added.

"What is alarming is that the number of girls who suffer from depression has increased. Most young girls try to overcome the boredom through physical relationships.

Soon, they seek psychiatric assistance as they begin to feel dirty. When guilt overpowers them they fall into a state of depression and sometime even become suicidal,'' Dr Kumar Babu, Former Resident Medical Officer, Institute of Mental Health.

"We may imitate the West in their food habits or dresses. But the same should not be done in work style," insists Dr. Kumar Babu, who also conducts courses on stress management for several corporate houses in the city.

The 5-day work and 2-day recreation life-style is not suited for the Indian psyche. Doctors say that as Indians we are not used to the grind and that it is totally against our cultural background.

Most of the companies provide a range of recreational facilities. "Apart from the normal sports and gym facility, we have given each person ear phones to listen to their preferred music," said Kalpana Srivastav, HR Manager at a software firm.

But doctors maintain that these may not be enough. "They do not help to fight the monotony. For most these just become a routine and the whole purpose is defeated, " points out Brinda Jayaraman. The companies should continuosly reinvent themselves and think of new ways of recreation, it is stressed.

"The company does have snooker, gym etc. They help me to relax occasionally while at work, but the unduly long working hours, completely upsetting my biological clock, an eerie atmosphere prevailing in the nights, the put on accent and constant interaction with customers far away, with whom you have little in common, all these take a heavy toll of my personal life.

But I don't know what is the way out, I'd hate to lose the hefty pay I get here," despairs Mani an employee of a call centre.

Doctors say solution lies in a supportive environment, towards which both the employers and the government should work.

WATCH OUT FOR THESE SIGNS:

Any withdrawal symptoms.

Highly irritant behaviour.

No real involvement in any activity including watching TV or listening to music.

Series of broken relationships.

Eating scarcely.

Slowing down in pace.

DOCTORS ADVISE:

Do something creative or artistic.

Simple stretching exercises.

Compulsory break for fifteen minutes once in two hours.

Not restrict social life to pubs and discos.

Eat regularly.

Spend half hour to equalise mood, either a hobby or meditation.

Take a holiday trip occasionally.

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