With constant stress, terrorist attacks, absence of social security and poverty, Pakistan is fast becoming a “psychological pressure cooker”, says co-chair of the Psychiatry in Developing Countries arm of the World Psychiatric Association Dr Afzal Javed.
According to Crescent Post, there is an epidemic of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in Pakistan due to anxiety induced by lack of basic necessities.
Dr Javed says:
Most people in Pakistan are living with a continued sense of helplessness, and rather than dealing with it they are accepting it. There is no concept of psychiatric social work in Pakistan. When your physical well-being is not guaranteed and you don’t have enough to feed your children your mental health is not a priority.
Psychiatrists in Pakistan believe that majority of the population is suffering from PTSD and that there is not much being done to help them.
The World Health Organisation estimates there are only 320 psychiatrists in Pakistan to deal with 176 million patients.
The article also points out the role of madrassas and their mushroom growth across the Grand Trunk Road that offers “free food, education and eternal salvation” as the Crescent Post puts it, contributing to the damage.
Dr Javed also believes that being a patriarchal society, it is rare that men in Pakistan admit their depression because it will indirectly mean that they failed to cope up with their responsibilities.
A report compiled by Consultant Psychiatrist Farooq Naeem for the International Journal of Mental Health Systems reveals that the ‘talking cure’ – a part of the psychological consultation – is often misunderstood because the doctors are mostly trained in English.
Hence, he thinks, that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – used to help people overcome PTSD – needs to be adjusted according to Pakistan’s culture and language.
People have become very rigid, inflexible in their thinking, and confused about religion. Things are going badly wrong. Even now with the death of [Osama] bin Laden there is a blame-game going on and no one is willing to take the responsibility. People are unable to rationally analyse the situation and are becoming angrier. These are the classic symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress. You find that Pakistanis have major issues around trust because they live in heightened security. After all, you never know who is living next door, your neighbours could be a suicide bomber.
Dr Javed says that the general practitioners and medical professionals need to deal with the situation before things get worse.