Stress has become an inevitable part of everyday living in the city. Why then are we not getting better at coping with it? We ask the experts for their opinion and tips on survival in the concrete jungle

Suicide rates are up by more than 13% since 2009, according to a recent report released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). The report states that, 'more than one lakh persons in the country lost their lives by committing suicide' -- an increase of 1.7% over the previous year's figure.'

"There is a high pressure to earn in today's world," says Dr Armaan Pandey, consultant psychiatrist with Surana Sethia Hospital in Chembur. "To adapt to any situation, we need time. Often the pressure of time is so intense that barely have we dealt with one thing that another comes up," he says, explaining the reason for poor coping skills.

Gender counts, when it comes to suicide rates as well, with more men than women killing themselves. "This is true not just of India, but worldwide. The rate of suicide in men is higher than that of women. However, the attempted rate of suicide is higher for women than for men, as men tend to use more violent methods than women," explains Dr Pandey. He adds that cases of women being under-reported also plays a role. "When a women commits suicide, it is frequently referred to as an 'accident' or an 'illness'."

Cry for help
The lack of awareness and taboos surrounding the seeking of professional help are other deterrents. Johnson Thomas, Director, Aasra, a 24-hour suicide helpline attributes this to the country's cultural make-up and less to access to coping mechanisms.

"In India, it is not as easy to seek help from an anonymous source, Even in urban India, nuclear families are not used to seeking help from outside," he says. The highest risk group is people between the ages of 15 and 35 years, according to Johnson, who says that on average they receive more calls from women than men. "We get the most calls from midnight to 4 am."

Just do it
While following a passion might not be an option for everyone, explains Johnson, "In India, finding your passion is a luxury," he suggests instead making time to work at something that interests us. "Do something that you have neglected over the years because of lack of time."

"Time management is the key to happiness," shares Dr Pandey, with physical exercise, meditation and yoga being other ways you can make time for yourself and successfully cope with stress.

Dear doctor,

Which protein would you recommend for weight loss?
Whey protein seems to have an edge over soy protein where weight loss is the issue. From a few studies done it appears that usage of whey results in lower levels of ghrelin in the blood and therefore reduced appetite.

What advice would you give to prevent Alzheimer's disease as I age?
You should be well educated, non smoking, physically active, devoid of depression, hypertension, diabetes and obesity. These are all risk factors for intellectual decline (Alzheimer's) as we age.

I have Rheumatoid arthritis. Does this mean I am more prone to heart disease?
There is an increased risk of heart attacks and other vascular events in the first year after diagnosis of Rheumatoid arthritis. There is a 60% higher relative risk of an attack and a 40% higher risk of ischemic events. The risk of fatal heart attack does not increase.

Help yourself?
Call: 27546669 (24-hour helpline)
To volunteer: 27546667
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Call: 25905959 (24-hour helpline)
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The Samaritans
Call: 32473267
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3 things you can do now
1. Like what you do
If you don't have the option of living your passion, then focus on things that you like about your current job. Try to have interests outside of work, so that you don't feel like you are defined by your work.
2. Make time for hobbies
If you haven't figured out what it is you love to do in your spare time, then sign up for a dance class or start your own club. Having a focus outside of your work will make you feel less like a slave.
3. Exercise
You know this. In case you need endorsement form an expert, here it is: "Physical health is very important for emotional health," says Dr Armaan Pandey.

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