34% population suffer depression, anxiety in Pakistan


KARACHI: Head of Psychiatry Department & Behavioural Sciences, Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), Prof Dr M Iqbal Afridi revealed on Thursday that an estimated 34 percent population of Pakistan has been suffering from depression and anxiety.

He shared these statics while addressing a press conference on theme “Dignity in Mental Health” in connection with the World Mental Health Day 2015 to be observed on 10th October 2015 worldwide.

He said cases of psychological or behavioural disorders have been increasing day by day in South Asian region including Pakistan owing to socio-economic changes for past few years. He said mental health is as important as physical health for an overall well-being of individuals, societies and countries.

He said various mental diseases had gone up sharply in our region due to man-made disasters, natural disasters and other reasons. He said depression and anxiety are the major mental diseases which are common in our society.

He said as per research, about 250 million people are living with psychological or behavioural disorders across the world while 90 percent of such patients remain untreated in under-developed countries.

He said only one percent world population is suffering from schizophrenia, a common genetic psychological disorder. He said health is not complete without the component mental health that is in fact the social capital as there is no health without mental health.

He said misconception about mental illnesses, like possession by supernatural power and their lifelong course, has stigmatized not only the mental health suffers and their care giver but also the mental health professionals. He said psychiatric patients are emotionally and physically violated, they are thought of as perpetrator of violence, while they are the victims as evident from researches.

Dr Afridi said in our part of world where people are deprived of their basic human rights, the provision of respect is a legal, social and moral obligation therefore; we endorse this year’s very much needed and appropriate theme ‘dignity in mental health’.

He said 600 psychiatrists are not enough for 200 million population of the country, while there is acute shortage of social workers, psychiatrists nursing staff and paramedics in the country. He said there is urgent need to increase public awareness, and ensuring formulating human rights oriented health polices in order to safeguard the rights of the patients and give a fair chance at a dignified life.

He said mental disorders are common but treatable. He said people should maintain a balance in life, and give proper attention to sleep, work, pray, exercise and diet in order to prevent from psychological or behavioural disorders.