By Iram Salim
(Pak Destiny) Some 34pc Pakistanis are suffering from depression. As the youth is suffering from depression or anxiety, many Pakistani parents simply tell their offspring to seek “divine help”… that is what maximum treatment is available here
Studies reveal that almost 34 per cent of Pakistanis, and 20pc of the global population, suffer from depression, which has shown to increase the risk of heart disease, negatively affect one’s relationships, encourage drug addictions, increase suicidal thoughts, etc.
In today’s Pakistan, scores of people seem to be leading perfectly normal, happy lives. Scratch the surface, however, and what lurks beneath for many is a host of psychological issues they’re battling with on a daily basis. Unfortunately, there is a deep-seated stigma attached to mental disorders in Pakistan.
Columnist Shanza Faiq says it is not uncommon for the word ‘psychology’ to be associated with madness; it is, therefore, a taboo subject in many households. Irrespective of what socioeconomic rung one hails from, it is typical for a person to remain quiet about their mental illness for fear of being ostracised.
She said instead of trying to comprehend the cause of their children’s depression or anxiety, many Pakistani parents simply tell their offspring to seek divine help. It is imperative that our society understands that mental illness is a medical condition and should be treated as such; it should provide the same amount of medical support as it does in the case of a physical illness.
“When children break a bone, or are found to have a tumour, parents immediately take them to a doctor to ensure their speedy recovery. The same level of attention should be given to psychological disorders, instead of being quick to label a depressed person as either not being religious enough or being under the influence of black magic.”
Research by The National Alliance on Medical Illness in the US shows that half of all chronic mental illnesses start around the age of 14, and three-quarters by the age of 24. What this shows is that recognising signs of mental illness in adolescents is of utmost importance and can only begin when we, collectively as a society, begin to cast aside our socially inherited biases and start to take this issue more seriously, says Ms Faiq. — Pak Destiny