Ragging can demolish a student - both mentally and physically

Far from being harmless induction and fun, ragging can have a serious impact on the students’ health and can lead to stress, anxiety and even depression.

Myupchar August 21, 2019 17:41:41 IST
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Ragging can demolish a student - both mentally and physically
  • Far from being harmless induction and fun, ragging can have a serious impact on the students’ health

  • Acute stress can lead to fatigue, anger, difficulty in thinking clearly, self-doubt and anxiety

  • Characterised by a deep sense of worry, anxiety may trigger excessive sweating, giddiness, nausea, increased heart rate, a feeling of panic and difficulty sleeping

Late last evening, news agency ANI reported that 150 first-year students at the Saifai Medical University in Etawah, Uttar Pradesh, were forced to shave their heads and parade in front of seniors, in an alleged case of ragging.

This is the second such case to come to light since the 2019 academic year began: at around 10am on 18 August, junior students at the All India Institute of Medical Science, Bhopal, had filed a complaint on the University Grants Commission’s anti-ragging helpline. AIIMS Bhopal has since suspended nine students in the case.

Ragging can demolish a student  both mentally and physically

Representational image. PTI

Ragging — especially in professional colleges — isn’t new. On 4 May 2001, India’s Supreme Court had called out the harmful effects of ragging in a ruling.

“Broadly speaking,” apex court justices R.C. Lahoti and Judge Brijesh wrote, “ragging is: any disorderly conduct whether by words spoken or written or by an act which has the effect of teasing, treating or handling with rudeness any other student, indulging in rowdy or indisciplined activities which causes or is likely to cause annoyance, hardship or psychological harm or to raise fear or apprehension thereof in a fresher or a junior student or asking the students to do any act or perform something which such student will not do in the ordinary course and which has the effect of causing or generating a sense of shame or embarrassment so as to adversely affect the physique or psyche of a fresher or a junior student...”

Far from being harmless induction and fun, ragging can have a serious impact on the students’ health.

Here are three significant ways how:

Stress: Ragging can trigger the body’s stress hormone cortisol. “Under normal circumstances, this hormone helps us to muster a ‘fight or flight’ response to an external stimulus,” said Dr Ayush Pandey, a medical practitioner associated with myUpchar.com. “However, undue amounts of stress may lead to a breakdown,” he added.

Acute stress — or momentary stress due to the perception or anticipation of tremendous amounts of pressure — can lead to fatigue, anger, difficulty in thinking clearly, self-doubt, anxiety and, in some cases, a breakdown of both physical and mental capacities. Physiologically, effects can vary from heartburn to back pain, irritable bowel, breathlessness, and elevated blood pressure, among other things.

Anxiety: Characterised by a deep sense of worry, anxiety may trigger excessive sweating, giddiness, nausea, increased heart rate, a feeling of panic and difficulty sleeping.

“Anxiety can be very powerful,” said Dr Archana Nirula, a senior medical officer at myUpchar.com. “Anxious students can find it hard to concentrate. Then, when they are unable to complete tasks, that triggers a loss of self-worth. Inability to sleep and digestive problems can compound their problems. In these cases, mental health issues like phobias, depression, suicidal tendencies and panic attacks can set in,” she added.

Depression: A type of psychiatric disorder, depression is characterized by at least two weeks of extreme sadness. Usually accompanied by feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and changes in sleep and appetite, depression affects every aspect of one’s life.

Anxiety and depression can alter the way people behave. A recent study with 477 students at a Chinese university found that anxiety and depression led to higher impulsivity and lower cognitive flexibility - that is, students suffering from depression often acted without considering the consequences. The study, “Anxiety and depression aggravate impulsiveness: the mediating and moderating role of cognitive flexibility”,  was published in the peer-reviewed journal Psychology, Health & Medicine in April 2019.

“Fresh entrants to medical schools have a high degree of frustration and stress,” said Dr Nirula. “These students have already spent the last few years in a very competitive environment - preparing for exams, writing them and worrying about admissions. Now this added stress of ragging and being the butt of jokes can break their spirit,” she added.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health. To know more on mental health topics, please visit https://www.myupchar.com/en/disease/mental-illness.

Updated Date:

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