With frequent reported cases of suicide, one is likely to wonder where we have gone wrong. With a global rising epidemic in people suffering from mental illnesses, Pakistan has not been safe from its grasp either.
There’s no denying that a significant proportion of youth as well as the older population is falling victim to illnesses, such as depression and anxiety. For those of you who don’t know, depression is defined as a persistent low mood, feelings of sadness and a loss of interest, whereas anxiety disorders pertain to feelings of apprehension and excessive worrying which is hard to shake off. Depression is normal, especially after a negative event like loss of a loved one. In fact, it is said to be as common as a common cold. However, depression that lasts long and stretches up to around 2 or more weeks with at least either of the symptoms present; (1) depressed mood or (2) loss of interest or pleasure, is a matter of worry as it demands a diagnosis for clinical depression. It should be noted however, that impairment in social, occupational, academic or other areas are required for a diagnosis.
Moving on, this issue needs to be well addressed. Not only is visiting a therapist or psychologist still considered a taboo in Pakistan, but the topic of “mental health” still remains stigmatized. One of the ways to remove this stigma is to speak up about it. The educated youth of today needs to make it okay for people to talk about it. This includes giving a shut-up call to those who say “boys don’t cry” and “men do not show emotions” especially since the male population ends up repressing their feelings, negative or positive in Pakistani society. Why is it considered manly for men to not show emotions? We need to eradicate gender roles associated with “display of emotions”. This results in a build-up of emotion which only harms mental health. There is no ‘shame’ in crying. In fact crying releases endorphins which makes us feel good. So go ahead, cry, express and talk about it. Remember, “When ‘I’ is replaced with ‘we’, even illness becomes wellness”- Malcolm X