Rising depression in Pakistan

Anxiety and depressive disorders are common in all regions of the world. But unfortunately, Pakistan is one of those vulnerable countries where stress, anxiety and depression are at highest level. Its victims are alarmingly more in urban areas than rural districts. These patients don’t belong to any specific age or class.

According to medical experts, depression is a common and serious illness that negatively affects how one feels, thinks and acts. It is a state of low mood when one avoids participating in social activities. It affects a person’s thoughts, behavior, feelings and sense of well-being. It causes feelings of sadness or a loss of interest in activities one enjoyed once and leads to a variety of emotional and physical problems and ultimately decreases a person’s ability to function at work and at home. In short, it is a common mental disorder that is reflected by one’s behavior. If not treated at time, these problems can become chronic and lead to substantial impairments in an individual’s ability to take care of his or her everyday responsibilities. A depressed person doesn’t enjoy even the good events such as starting a new job, or getting married. At its worst, depression can lead to suicide.

There are many reasons that cause depression or anxiety. Its symptoms could vary from mild to severe. One of the most common reasons is a family history, social environment and state of upbringing. It may result from personal conflicts or disputes with family members. In addition there are multitudes of other factors which intensify the situation. These include poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, lack of health and education facilities, economic issues, stressful working conditions, poor housing or living conditions, bad justice system etc. Depressive disorders often start at a young age and imbalance people’s personality miserably and reduce their functioning. Because of these factors depression has become the leading cause of disability worldwide in terms of total years lost due to disability. Research suggests that maternal depression may be a risk factor for poor growth in young children which affects not only this generation but also the next.

What is the need of the hour is to spread awareness about depression among common masses and should make them realize that its treatment is essential. We should tell people that investment in mental health makes financial and social sense, and failure to act is costly. Its effective treatment is available through talking therapies and antidepressant medications, or a combination of both. It is unfortunate that people in our country think consulting a psychiatrist means they are abnormal and others will treat them as a mental case. They do not realize that consulting psychiatrists are very much normal because their basic responsibility is bringing people back into their normal lives. There is nothing of being mental if one takes therapies. In developed countries people are not ashamed of discussing their problems with psychologist because they take it so normal. That is why the level of anxiety is less among them as compared to us as most people do consult therapists. If we do not change this trend then we will not able to flourish as a successful society.

In this regard, the governments should step forward to improve mental health services. It can involve NGOs to create awareness among the people about the symptoms of depression and its solutions. Due to lack of awareness people don’t know what exactly depression is, even if they know they don’t accept because of fear of being rejected by the society. Many of them believe that they will cope up on their own. The government should raise the standard of infrastructure and manage the budget each year for mental health of the people. There should be short term and long term goal to improve the worsening situation.

Currently, mental health is the most neglected field in Pakistan. When people with depression go untreated, they often find other means of coping; this can lead to addictions or suicidal thoughts. We should understand that people suffering from mental conditions are normal people just like others. But their only problem is that they failed to cope well with their issues due to which they suffer and need help of a professional. Such people need our help and support in order to live healthy and normal lives. The more we will be prosper as individual and as nations when we will live the more fulfilling, self-satisfying and less stressful lives. Depression awareness among the general public as well as people affected will help to decrease the stigma around the disease, making help and treatment a more viable option.

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