Beware of depression bomb

.. by Islamuddin

There is little realization that psychological problems can be equally fatal and endemic if proper precautions are not taken. Unfortunately none of the medical facilities in Chitral offer psychiatric treatment despite claims that more than 90 % physical ailments have psychological roots. Starting as anxiety it progressively evolves into stress, depression, anger, hysteria, and schizophrenia ultimately resulting in suicide or heart attack. There are mentally disturbed people roaming round towns and villages like dangerous animals, posing threats to life and property. Instead of proactive response we tend to be reactive. Crying over spilt milk has become part of our psychology.

In recent years there has been phenomenal increase in depression related accidents. A depressed person indulges in criminality to take revenge from society, which he or she considers responsible for his/her state of mind or goes into drugs to seek pleasure. The later tendency is more frequent due to hedonistic tendencies in our society. But others, especially women, indulge in catharsis or find it easier to commit suicide. Recent studies into the incidences of suicide have revealed that exam phobia, absence of career counseling, parental pressure to get better marks in exams, sense of worthlessness, domestic maladjustments and failure to contract love marriages are the main causes of depression and subsequent suicides.

Deeper look into this rising phenomenon appears to be reflective of the general social malaise emerging from denial of opportunities, lack of level playing field, acute sense of injustice, materialism and demonstration effect of wealth, lack of awareness about stress management techniques and double standards in society, especially among religious people who fail to become role models. This takes people away from religion as a comfort zone and a useful tool to fight depression. Rampant corruption and impunity also takes its toll on young idealists pushing them deeper into depression and escapism.

Ironically most of the suicides happen to youth who apparently should have no cause to commit this act. Born to parents with good social, economic, and educational standing, there appears to be little or no reason for suicides but nevertheless these have happened. No serious efforts have been made to diagnose the malaise. Few NGOs do carry out awareness programs but with no back up to treat the malaise after creating awareness. Sometimes ignorance is bliss, as traditional wisdom would make us believe. Once a person has been made aware of an issue it generally follows that almost everyone in the audience perceives himself or herself to be suffering from that ailment but there is no facility to seek help for confirmation, which aggravates mental problem or causes one.

In many cases self-medication follows causing more problems than solutions. If there is no Government hospital around (private hospitals are prohibitively expensive), people with some means prefer chemists or faith healers to treat a complex psychological problem instead of being fleeced by private hospitals. Government neglect of health sector did push people to demand NGO intervention to run Government hospitals. Once that was done through public-private partnerships, these hospitals became costly. Insurance covers only indoor patients, who constitute less than 1 %, while the bulk of patients, who are out-door patients, are increasingly becoming restive and demanding Government run hospitals, especially now when PTI Government in KPK has significantly improved health and education sectors making a wide range of services free.

There is urgent need to reverse the current trend. Apart from effective and targeted awareness programs we should equip our hospitals with facilities for the treatment of psychiatric patients. In the long run psychological problems may be mainstreamed and made part of our curricula. Training and refresher courses in educational psychology should be given due importance. Career counseling and psychological guidance may be institutionalized. Rationality and cost-benefit equation instead of psycho-mythology and blind imitation should guide our daily discourse. .. Islamuddin, Garm Chashma Chitral 06 Jun 2018


One thought on “Beware of depression bomb

  1. I think Mr. Islamuddin for highlighting crucial issues in his articles. It shows his love for Chitral which is also reflected by his decision to come back to Chitral. He could easily settle in any city. I expect other visionary leaders to come forward to play their positive role.
    Depression, if not attended now, would turn entire society into mental patients. I appeal to AKHSP to intervene in this field but in cost effective way. Donor supported fund may be created in AKHSP to provide free treatment to mental patients. We do not expect the Government to act fast. Had it not been for AKDN, we would not have achieved this level. I propose strong parent, teacher councils to help depressed students.

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