HomeAnswersPsychiatrydepressionI am a student experiencing stress, irregular sleep patterns, and a diminished ability to concentrate. Please help.

How can I alleviate my stress, lack of concentration, and symptoms related to depression?


The following is an actual conversation between an iCliniq user and a doctor that has been reviewed and published as a Premium Q&A.

Answered by

Dr. Aditya Gupta

Medically reviewed by

iCliniq medical review team

Published At September 5, 2023
Reviewed AtSeptember 5, 2023

Patient's Query

Hello doctor,

I am currently in my first year of high school, and I find myself in a highly competitive academic environment where many students aspire to attend prestigious universities. The atmosphere can be quite stressful. My sleep schedule is often irregular, with me typically going to bed between 12:30 to 2:00 am and waking up at 6:25 am on school days, resulting in constant fatigue. Despite the challenges, I have taken the initiative to self-study three advanced placement courses and have set a goal to skip precalculus and progress directly to calculus by the tenth grade, as it is an available option. Although my classmates are incredibly competitive, I only feel comfortable around a small number of them. Nevertheless, it seems that, from an outside perspective, I am doing relatively well. I have achieved success in a writing contest, maintain the highest GPA in my grade, and qualified a math contest. People generally view me as intelligent.

Lately, I have been feeling increasingly worried because I have been having difficulty concentrating, and I cannot pinpoint the reason behind it. I suspect that it might be due to a lack of sleep, but I am also considering the possibility of having a mental health disorder that is affecting my ability to focus. I also participate in tennis, and up until this school year, I was quite skilled at it. However, for the past few years, I have been grappling with periods of intense misery that I hesitate to label as depression since I am uncertain about the exact nature of my emotions. I am not constantly sad, but occasionally, I have fleeting thoughts of wanting to die. Oddly enough, if a random car were to accidentally hit me and end my life, I must admit that I would feel a sense of relief. Most of the time, though, I feel predominantly tired and lack motivation for any activities. During tennis matches, when the ball comes rushing towards me, I find myself freezing and becoming confused, even though I know exactly how to hit the ball. Initially, I considered the possibility of being afraid of the ball, but given my willingness for a car accident to occur, I do not believe that is the case. I wonder if there is a mental disorder that could be slowing down my instincts and reactions, although I am uncertain which specific disorder it might be. While I experience both highs and lows, I generally have consistently low energy levels, which leads me to believe that bipolar disorder may not be the cause. I am deeply conflicted about this matter. My parents are rather strict and dismissive of what they consider to be ‘politically correct nonsense’, including mental disorders. They tend to view such issues as teenage foolishness and attention-seeking behavior. In contrast, I believe in the legitimacy of mental health disorders to some extent, especially since I have learned about their molecular causes in an advanced placement (AP) class. Overall, I am unsure about the factors contributing to my diminished ability to concentrate and lack of motivation. I have never sought medical attention for these concerns, and as a result, I have not been diagnosed with any condition or received any relevant medication. Please provide me with suggestions.

Answered by Dr. Aditya Gupta


Thanks for trusting us with your health care.

I can understand your concern. In my opinion, distress is the main culprit here, and you should focus on stress management. The following steps can be helpful:

  1. Follow sleep hygiene practices, such as maintaining a regular sleep schedule, avoiding caffeinated drinks at least eight hours before sleep, and refraining from using electronic devices like TV, mobile phones, or laptops half an hour before sleep. Aim for about six to seven hours of quality sleep.
  2. While competition is important, make sure to dedicate at least one hour daily to your hobbies. If you enjoy music, it can be particularly beneficial.
  3. Engage in daily meditation for at least half an hour in the morning. This can help promote relaxation and reduce stress.
  4. Incorporate regular exercise into your routine and maintain a balanced diet that is rich in antioxidants and omega fatty acids.
  5. Consider screening yourself for clinical depression. You can take a self-rating test for depression, which you can easily find online. If the results indicate moderate to severe depression, it is advisable to consult a psychiatrist in person for further evaluation and guidance.

Hope this helps you. Feel free to ask if you have any further queries.

Thank you.

Differential diagnosis

Possible diagnoses to consider include Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).

Same symptoms don't mean you have the same problem. Consult a doctor now!

Dr. Aditya Gupta
Dr. Aditya Gupta


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