The parents wanted their 12-year-old daughter to ace the exams. So they did what they thought was the best thing to do: apply pressure. The child then began showing signs of anxiety, lack of concentration, forgetfulness and headache. It was only after consulting a psychiatrist did the parents realise that it was their action that was a big factor in their daughter's distress.
Depression and acute exam fear were cited in the suicide of a 15-year-old girl who jumped to her death from the seventh floor of an apartment building in J.P. Nagar in Bangalore. This may be an extreme case, but it is a fact that students get too stressed during exams.
Experts say exam time is when many students, especially in the age group 12 to 15 years, find themselves weighed down by expectations, stress, and anxiety.
B.R. Madhukar, senior consultant psychiatrist at St. Martha's Hospital, who has been seeing many such cases in the last month, says that while some complain of sleepless nights, others find it difficult to concentrate.
“More than parental pressure, the students are worried about their parents' reaction if they score less. Parents should stop expecting their child to top the class every time. Instead, their support and encouragement are most important,” he says.
Advising students to avoid last-minute cramming, Dr. Madhukar says continuous study for hours without a break further increases stress. “It is important to take a break and relax by watching television or just lying down for a short while,” he says. “The trick is to tackle the most difficult subjects early in the morning when the mind is fresh. Students should not shy away from discussing [lessons] with their friends. Group studies will also help a lot.”
That is not all. Paediatricians too are seeing children with breathing problems, severe headache, pain in the abdomen and nausea.
Paediatrician H. Paramesh, who is also the director of Lakeside Hospital, observes: “The children complain of difficulty in breathing although their lung functioning is absolutely normal. This is because of neurological stress which also reduces the immunity level in the child.”
Explaining that low immunity level could lead to an increase in the frequency of illness, Dr. Paramesh says all these factors could significantly reduce the student's energy, confidence and motivational levels.
Nutritionist K.C. Raghu of Pristine Organics says students should avoid exotic food and instead stick to their regular diet.
“As children require a little more energy during exams, it is better for them to eat according to their appetite. They should avoid caffeinated beverages so that they don't lose sleep.”
Spicy and oily food should be avoided as it only increases laziness.
Adequate intake of fruits, vegetables and water is a must.All these experts advise that the best way to de-stress is to take rest, sleep at least for six hours, relax and be patient.