Don’t ask a depressed person to ‘be happy’. Ask them to consult a psychiatrist

All over the world, more than 300 million people are suffering from depression. According to World Health Organization, depression is one of the leading cause of disability and more women are affected by it than men. Also it is one of the leading cause why people commit suicide and end their lives.

In Pakistan, it is rapidly on the rise among teenagers and people, almost of every age. But how do we as a society react to anyone suffering from depression or how we somehow became the reason of miserable conditions of patients by ignoring obvious signs of someone’s depressed phase at the earlier stages.

It is a serious concern not only for Pakistan but globally as well. According to Agha Khan University Study (2005-06), 34% of the population is suffering from mental disorders. 55% of this total population are women and 25% are men.

What do we need to know about the depression? Let’s have a look.

First of all, it should be understood that depression is a ‘disease’ and it can happen to anyone, it can be you or it could be me. We don’t have power over it just like we don’t have any control over other diseases. All we can do is try to stabilize someone before it is too late and understanding the symptoms.

We need to change our attitude and behaviour towards people suffering. We in Pakistan often say “Khushrahaker“, “Duakiaker” and many other things to the person suffering but what we don’t know is that it does not work this way.

For sure, happiness and praying for better health is necessary, but do we act in the same way suffering from other diseases as well? Do we just stay happy and pray to get well?

No! We don’t.

We consult doctors and we take medicines. That is the same way how this disease should be handled and victims or potential victims should be considered as patients and should be dealt with that way.

What factors can cause depression?

According to World Health Organization, one of the leading factor is family history of depression. Other than that, having poor nutrition, using any sort of licit or illicit drugs, and continuous exposure to stressors like wars and conflicts.

Other diseases like chronic physical illnesses, hypertension, diabetes, cancers, thyroid disorders and Parkinson disease can also lead towards depression.

What symptoms can you possibly see in a depressed person?

Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, loss of interest in daily activities, appetite or weight changes, sleep changes, anger or irritability, loss of energy, self-loathing and reckless behaviour.

If you witness some of these symptoms in anyone you know, what should you do? Don’t advise him to just stay happy please. Help him consult a psychiatrist for a proper check-up and recovery. There is no shame in consulting psychiatrist, we should not take it as a taboo topic for our own sake.

Talking of psychiatrists, that is another issue need to be addressed as soon as possible in Pakistan.

We are motivating and educating patients to consult medical experts because the disease is rising rapidly in Pakistan but do we have enough number of psychiatrists? No! In Pakistan, according to an estimate, there are only 750 psychiatrists, which means only 1 for 10,000 patients.

Misery doesn’t end here, for almost 4 million children suffering from mental disorder we have one psychiatrist in Pakistan. Major mental disorder hospitals in Pakistan are around 5 or less than that even.

This is just as important issue for Pakistan as any other. It’s a request to our government and nation as well to take depression as a disease seriously and public should know that there is a treatment to cure this disease.

There’s great need of awareness among public and I am hoping to be the first drop of the ocean for this noble cause.

Find a cure, not an excuse!

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