"Then We revived you after your death, so that you may be appreciative." (Al-Baqarah: 56)
  • Friday 19, October 2018

Depression: An Alarming Threat to Pakistan

Depression: An Alarming Threat to Pakistan

Depression is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects the feelings, thinking and actions of an individual. According to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), depression can be classified as major depressive disorder, persistent depressive disorder and premenstrual dysphoric disorder.

Depression is slowly, yet gradually, making its presence felt around the world. A report by   World Health Organization, titled ‘Depression and Other Common Disorders, Global Health Estimates’ explored that the total estimated number of people living with depression increased by 18.4 percent, and the total number of people living with depression in the world is 322 million. Globally, it is estimated that 4.4% of the global population suffer from depressive disorder.

Depression is also a major contributor to suicide deaths which number close to 800000 per year. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people aged between 15 to 29 years globally. Depression is affecting every class of society in a variety of ways. Depressed people lose interest or pleasure in their usual activities, feel worthless, tend to isolate from society, face irritability, fatigue, sleeping problems, and thoughts of death or suicide.

Depression is often caused by a combination of physical, psychological, and social factors, like a family history of depression, poor nutrition, use of licit and illicit drugs, long-term difficulties like financial problems belonging to a minority group and having chronic physical illnesses like hypertension, diabetes, cancers, thyroid disorders and Parkinson disease.

Low income countries like Pakistan face tough challenge in this respect where only a low percentage of gross domestic products are allocated to health services. In Pakistan depression affects almost 34 percent of people. Both genetic and environmental factors play an important role in its pathogenesis. According to a research around 35.7 percent citizens of Karachi are affected with this mental illness, while 43 percent from Quetta and 53.4 percent from Lahore are also affected.

Depression accounts for six percent cases of mental illness in Pakistan and increasing depression rate has created many issues, including economic insecurity, unemployment, stressful working conditions, gender discrimination, political uncertainty and disruption of the social settings.

In Pakistan, Depression among youth has become more common. Due to the tremendous rate of unemployment, inflation and energy crisis and no life security, the psychological pressure on youth has increased manifolds. The economic pressure further leads to oppressing need for jobs security and reasonable learning opportunities. The absence of this factor pushes youth into the abyss of depression. As a result, a negative attitude towards life is springing up among youth. The destructive trends like drug addiction, alcoholism and smoking are strengthening their root among youth. Depression has not only affected from lower income group but the middle class and the elite have also been affected. Unfortunately, there is no proper outlet for the youth vent out their depressive thoughts. So, they resort to illegal and destructive channels.  It is therefore essential that authorities take this issue seriously and take substantial steps to lift up the spirit of youth, which constitute 65 percent population of the country. Youth is the blood running through the vein of the nation and if it is not taken care of, the whole nation will suffer immensely.

Main causes of depression in Pakistan are environment, disproportionately high poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, lack of health and education facilities, poor housing, poor living conditions, pollution, no regulation of food, medicines, hospitals, poor justice system just intensify the situation.

Depression is a disorder that can be reliably diagnosed and treated in primary care. Preferable treatment options consist of basic psychosocial support combined with antidepressant medication and cognitive behavior therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy or problems solving treatment. Depressed people should start talking to someone they trust, stay connected with family and friends, seek professional help, stick to regular eating and sleeping habits, keep up with activities they used to enjoy and accept that you might have depression.

The government should raise the standard of infrastructure and manage the budget each year for the health sector. The authorities and NGOs should 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 it because they are afraid of being rejected by the society or they believe they will cope up on their own.