mental health – HTV https://htv.com.pk Fri, 05 Jun 2020 07:00:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Differentiating Mental Health From Mental Illness https://htv.com.pk/health/mental-health-from-mental-illness Tue, 15 Oct 2019 10:48:22 +0000 https://htv.com.pk/?p=54727

Only recently has there been an open discourse in mainstream media about mental health awareness. While the open discussion has helped many individuals to understand the importance of mental health, unfortunately many misconstrued mental health and mental illness to be the same thing. These two terms are being increasingly used as if they mean the […]

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Only recently has there been an open discourse in mainstream media about mental health awareness. While the open discussion has helped many individuals to understand the importance of mental health, unfortunately many misconstrued mental health and mental illness to be the same thing.

These two terms are being increasingly used as if they mean the same thing. But they do not.

What is mental health?

When talking about mental health, it is important to note the distinction between the two. As WHO famously says, “there is no health without mental health.” Mental health is referred to an individual’s mental wellbeing, their emotions and feelings, and their understanding of the world around them. This may include but isn’t limited to their ability to connect with people, how they solve problems or overcome difficulties.

Related5 Things Your Therapist Wants You To Know

It is important to note that while everyone should take care of their wellbeing, not everyone will experience a mental illness in their life time.

What is mental illness?

Mental illness is a disorder that affects the way people think, feel, behave or interact with others. It’s how physical ailment would impact a person’s life. There are many different mental illnesses, and they have different symptoms that impact peoples’ lives in different ways.

The most common mental illness that affects people is anxiety and depression. And both like other disorders are treatable through early intervention. So just how an individual would seek professional help for any physical ailments, one should also seek help for any mental illnesses.

Related: Imposter’s Syndrome: Your Achievements Aren’t Fraudulent

However, it is pertinent to note that a person can have a bad mental health but still not have a serious illness. Similarly, someone can have a good mental health and yet be diagnosed with a mental illness.

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5 Things Your Therapist Wants You To Know https://htv.com.pk/vitality/therapist-wants-you-to-know Thu, 10 Oct 2019 16:29:51 +0000 https://htv.com.pk/?p=54665

The Pakistan Association of Mental Health estimates that more than 34 per cent of Pakistan’s population is affected by mental illness. It no longer is OK to shy away from talking about the importance of mental health and related disorders. This is also because one of the reasons that does stop people from seeking help […]

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The Pakistan Association of Mental Health estimates that more than 34 per cent of Pakistan’s population is affected by mental illness. It no longer is OK to shy away from talking about the importance of mental health and related disorders.

This is also because one of the reasons that does stop people from seeking help is the societal stigma attached to the subject. Other reasons include lack of treatment and facilities available.

However, this does not mean that there has been no positive change observed over time. Acceptance of mental illnesses has led a significant number of the population, especially in urban centers, to seek professional help.

While it’s great to see people breaking the taboo and being more receptive towards therapy, there are still a few misconceptions that exist. One of which is that people believe therapy to be a cure for mental illnesses.

Therapists and psychologists have often stated that to be untrue. Therapy is, in fact, a treatment towards a patient’s recovery and helps them manage their symptoms better.

To counter similar such misconceptions held by people wanting to seek therapy, we spoke to psychologists Yumna Usmani. And here are five things she wants you to know.

  1. Not every emotion is a disorder

You may be feeling a lot of emotions at a certain time. Some of these emotion, such as, sadness might overshadow other feelings, while on other times, happiness may override other emotions. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a disorder.

You can speak to your therapist about different emotions you feel at any certain point in life. Most, importantly, remember that going to a therapist doesn’t make you ‘crazy’.

  1. Therapy (healing) is a process and not a magic wand

Therapy, as we mentioned above, is not a cure but instead a process that helps an individual with their recovery. So be patient with yourself.

And don’t count days but instead focus on your personal growth and small achievements you make.

  1. Therapy is collaborative

Just like any other relationship, therapy will only be beneficial if you build up a positive relationship with your therapist. It’s a two-way process, your therapist cannot make you have a breakthrough unless you are also willing to put in effort.

  1. There are no set or right answers

You should remember that your therapy sessions are strictly confidential and all your therapist wants is you to be comfortable and yourself.

So, don’t worry about saying the right things, or behaving in a certain manner. You’ll come up with your own answers as you go.

  1. Therapy will not always make you feel happy

It is important to remember that there will be challenging days but eventually, you will feel better.

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Imposter’s Syndrome: Your Achievements Aren’t Fraudulent https://htv.com.pk/mind-body/imposters-syndrome Tue, 08 Oct 2019 09:56:39 +0000 https://htv.com.pk/?p=54305

Sakina came on Dean’s list of her university this year but despite seeing her name against the 4.0 GPA, she felt that something was amiss. She feels it wasn’t good enough and that her achievements amounted to nothing because there are so many who would do the same or even better. It took her a […]

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Sakina came on Dean’s list of her university this year but despite seeing her name against the 4.0 GPA, she felt that something was amiss. She feels it wasn’t good enough and that her achievements amounted to nothing because there are so many who would do the same or even better. It took her a while to understand that she had ‘Imposter’s Syndrome’ or ‘Imposter Phenomenon’.

Imposter Syndrome is the inability to trust one’s own hard work which has led to any achievements and people, who have it constantly, doubt their own efforts and skills by questioning the legitimacy of the achievements.

The idea behind Imposter Syndrome was brought forward by American psychologist Dr Pauline Rose Clance who wrote ‘The Imposter Phenomenon: Overcoming the Fear that Haunts Your Success’ in 1985.

“I work great under pressure but that has nothing to do with achieving rather just plain productivity. For me, I know I will never achieve anything good in life. When my semester begun, I was feeling terrible about a course which gave me anxiety because other students already knew the tools to use in the course. Yet, I was able to get an A. I also keep comparing myself to others and even when I do something great, the voice in my head goes like ‘so what?’” Sakina shared about her experience.

Related: 10 Things People With Anxiety Can Relate To

You Didn’t Just Luck Out

People who have Imposter Syndrome also feel that all their success is a result of a stroke of luck and they had zero contribution to where they stand. This doubt can be so distressing that it becomes difficult to release self from its clutches.

“There are days when I just cannot believe that it was I who came this far. I constantly felt that I didn’t deserve it, rather once I even went to the program officer to ask if they were sure to pick me from a selection of 100s,” says Areeba, who is a writer.

While it cannot be said that only a certain kind of people may suffer from it, some groups which may already be oppressed may be more vulnerable to it than others.

According to psychotherapist, Zaufishan Qureshi, while Imposter Syndrome is not a disorder, it’s a feeling where a person sees their self-inadequate/qualified enough to do a certain task/performance. Whereas, there is contrary evidence demonstrating their skill set in the area: “However, the evidence is never enough for them and they don’t feel validated.”

Zaufishan shared that it may also develop due to parenting and early childhood schooling.

“As per German-American psychologist Erik Erikson’s theory, a child does not develop agency or initiative as an adult if at a particular stage of their childhood they are snubbed, ridiculed and discouraged for attempting little tasks for the first time,” she says.

To further elaborate on the point Zaufisheen says that these things could be as small as filling up a cup of water, using cutlery, wearing shoes, etc. She added that other reasons could be abuse and dissociation: “Trauma like childhood abuse of any form, lead people to doubt their self and judgment. The identity issue arises when they seek escape in imaginary identifies (dissociation) as a child to overcome trauma, and in this process, the sense of self weakens.”

Related: You Can’t Eat Away Depression, Because Depression Eats You Away

Speaking about the treatment, Zaufishan said that it cannot be done in isolation because there are far greater chances of the syndrome’s existence owing to an underlying psychological difficulty/disorder, but assertive training and cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure therapy can be used to work around it.

You Are Not Alone

Imposter’s Syndrome is important to be addressed because it hampers people’s growth, stops them from voicing out their best ideas or even apply for jobs which would suit their credentials.

However, many people also feel that speaking about it has also helped them because earlier they thought that it was just them. But upon sharing this with others, they realized that there were many people who went through the same ordeal too.

“Once I realized that I had Imposter’s Syndrome, I was more aware of the feeling which took over me whenever someone would validate my work, and instead of beating myself about it in my head I would take a deep breath and remind myself of all the hard work which went into the cause for that validation. I wouldn’t say that it has been easy because it is far too easy to believe that I am a fraud, and that someday all these people will know my secret. But there are some days where I keep repeating to myself that it is me, and that I am a capable individual,” Areeba told about her ways to deal with it.

But if it makes anyone feel better, one of the greatest poets, Maya Angelou also had Imposter’s Syndrome despite her being acclaimed. She would say “I have run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out”, so if she can go through this ordeal and emerge so many times, we all can.

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World Suicide Prevention Week: Human Mind Is Not A Switch https://htv.com.pk/health/suicide-prevention Sat, 14 Sep 2019 08:31:03 +0000 https://htv.com.pk/?p=45984

The World Suicide Prevention Day held this week, on September 10, was not only to create awareness about suicide but to tell people going through a tough patch in their lives, that they are not alone. According to the WHO report on suicide prevention, more than 13,000 people have lost their lives by suicide since […]

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The World Suicide Prevention Day held this week, on September 10, was not only to create awareness about suicide but to tell people going through a tough patch in their lives, that they are not alone.

According to the WHO report on suicide prevention, more than 13,000 people have lost their lives by suicide since 2012. In fact, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan reported around 3,500 cases in 2017. It should be kept in mind that more often than not, cases of suicide are often not reported owing to the stigma attached to it.

But is there a way to deal with the stigma, because there is no denying that people take their lives each day due to various factors especially failing mental health, and shaming families or people on the basis of religion doesn’t save anyone.

Related: The Alarming Rise Of Suicides In Thar

Losing the will to live is certainly what leads many people to the path of suicide but instead of focusing on what leads them to the loss, society bashes them for thinking that way, reminding them that they are just ungrateful. But then our minds don’t have a simple binary switch with 0 and 1 which can be turned on and off through a checklist of the blessings we have.

Rather, people who attempt suicide and are lucky enough to survive are often pushed back to the act when they are mocked by family and friends. It is fairly common for people to call it a ‘stunt’ or ‘attention seeking’ behavior, ignoring the tremendous amount of pain one goes through to be contemplating suicide.

Being kind to people with suicidal ideations

Glorifying suicide by associating it with those who belong to the world of arts is also wrong because suicide is about enduring a life of horrific pain which cannot always be shown to the world. Negative reinforcement is one of the worst ways to deal with a person who has just survived an attempt. Saying things like “you couldn’t even die” or “you can never do anything right” would not help a survivor, rather chances are that they may harm themselves again.

According to psychotherapist, Zaufishan Qureshi, many of the patients who survived a suicide attempt remember the harsh reaction of their families.

“People who survive a suicide attempt are subjected to a lot of humiliation which effects their pride and sense of self, and regaining it after an attempt is extremely challenging.

It is thought that snubbing, ridiculing and humiliating the survivor would discourage them to attempt suicide again, but this is not the case. In fact, this too becomes a reason to attempt it again,” she said.

She mentioned that suicide is a cry for help and the helplessness and powerlessness in a given situation gets so unbearable to a person that suicide seems like an only coping strategy to escape it all.

“In fact, there is no such thing as ‘doing it for attention’, because unconsciously one is really troubled even if they are doing it for ‘attention’. As therapists, we always take it seriously and explore unconscious motivations to help such a person out,” she said.

Subtle ques that could save a life

Many times, we hear people being extremely shocked when someone takes their life because they seemed to be perfectly fine and showed no signs of any mental illness. While it is not easy to put a finger on who would be contemplating of suicide, sometimes people do give subtle cues, which can be helpful if they are taken for treatment.

Zaufishan said that people who are suicidal often start with joking about it.

“We need to take it seriously if someone jokes more than often about their suicide or death. Along with this, giving away personal belongings and not caring about monetary possessions furthers are some of the subtle but common signs for someone who is considering suicide. Other not so subtle signs are writing on social media about death or a wish to die. Some people even directly talk about planning a suicide,” she said.

She also felt that people were often scared and clueless to approach their friends with suicidal ideations, but despite that, it is best to ask the person.

“Research suggests that it is perfectly alright to ask your friend to elaborate on their suicide thoughts, to ask them reasons and to help them arrange resources for getting out of a situation that is making them suicidal. In recent times, a lot of suicidal people came to me for counselling just because a good friend took out the time to bring them in for therapy. I have found these ways to be helpful. We need to be more perceptive and take the subtle and not so subtle signs seriously and act accordingly,” she explained.

She also pointed out that if the person expressing suicidal ideation was taking a psychiatric medication, then the dosage should be given by the people in family: “Often people overdose on their psychiatric medication or prescription meds. The first thing a family has to do is to remove the access to all the medicines in the house.”

Apart from this, we need to encourage the idea of support groups instead of calling people weak for seeking out help.

Related: Is Mental Health An Option For Just The Privileged

“It could be a proactive approach to express emotions and problems that make one feel alone. These could be formally arranged support groups or could be any natural community setting. A person who is suicidal not only needs resources to resolve their personal crisis, but they also need to feel that they belong. The community sense is really important and should be inculcated at workplaces, mohallas, dhabas, academic settings for students,” she added.

It takes immense courage to talk about suicide, as someone who has attempted it as well as someone who has lost a loved one to suicide. If one finds out that a person took their life, instead of prodding the family with unnecessary questions, it’s always better to show them support in their tough time.

Also, being suicidal is not a personality trait which should be used to identify a person, rather people are larger than their mental illnesses and instead of shunning and putting them in a box, we should show empathy towards them because you never know you may save someone just by being there for them.

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The Alarming Rise of Suicides in Thar https://htv.com.pk/health/suicides-in-thar Fri, 23 Aug 2019 10:05:08 +0000 https://htv.com.pk/?p=45730

There comes a situation in life when a person thinks dying by suicide is a lot easier than dealing with emotional pain. And people in Tharparkar are being pushed to take that decision. Thar is an extremely underdeveloped part of Sindh and that too contributes to the reasons why Tharis commit suicide along with prolonged […]

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There comes a situation in life when a person thinks dying by suicide is a lot easier than dealing with emotional pain. And people in Tharparkar are being pushed to take that decision.

Thar is an extremely underdeveloped part of Sindh and that too contributes to the reasons why Tharis commit suicide along with prolonged spell of drought, use of drugs and domestic violence.

According to the SSP Tharparkar, Abdullah Ahmed, around 100 people died by suicide in the region in 2018 alone, while this year 44 people have taken their lives so far.

“When a mentally ill person develops extremes of pessimism and learns helplessness then he/she starts getting suicidal thoughts,” explains Dr Raza ur Rahman, the meritorious professor and former chairman of the Psychiatry Department at the Dow University.

In Pakistan, not just in Thar, there are a number of reasons why mental illnesses are prevalent:

  1. Lack of basic necessities of life
  2. Lack of peace and political instability
  3. Unemployment
  4. Health issues
  5. Poverty
  6. Homelessness
  7. Family disputes and a range of social pressures.

(The Hymen Right Commission Report of Pakistan 2018)

Related: You Can’t Eat Away Depression, Because Depression Eats You Away

Dr Rahman says that the causes of depression contribute towards development of suicidal thoughts.

On the other hand, Dr Quratul Ain, who works as a consultant psychiatrist in Karachi, says that while there are many factors which can influence a person’s decision to end their life, in most cases the person has severe depression and bipolar disorder.

“There are stages of depression: mid stage, moderate stage and severe stage. In moderate and severe stage, mostly, a person has overwhelming feelings and great emotional pain. Dealing with emotional pain is difficult for them and they think death is easy,” she says.

More women die by suicide in Thar

The number of women dying by suicide is higher than men in Pakistan than just Thar. According to Dr Rahman, one of the reasons is that females are readier to admit depressive symptoms than men.

Secondly, many depressed males start abusing alcohol and drugs so they are diagnosed as alcoholic or drug addict rather than depressed.

Thirdly, hormones of menstruation and parturition make women prone to depression.

Related: Is Being Single The Only Cause Of Depression Among Pakistani Women

On the other hand, Dr Quratul Ain says women are vulnerable to depression because of our patriarchal society, unfair practices and socio-economic problems. Ahmed agrees that in most cases they find out the married woman who died by suicide had a tussle with her mother-in-law or was in an unhappy marriage.

“Poverty, domestic violence and unfair treatment makes women’s lives miserable. Most of the women either jump into a well or hang themselves from a ceiling fan,” says Ahmed and claims that most of the women who committed suicide in Thar belonged to the Hindu community. It is no secret that the minorities in Thar face a lot of problems that can adversely affect their mental health.

The figures related to suicide are sketchy in Pakistan but mental health professionals see an increased number of such cases in their practice.

According to the Human Rights Commission Pakistan (HRCP) report 2018, 1,338 people died by suicide in the country. “Domestic problems were the most common causes for suicide among both women and men. Negligence on the part of husband and conflict with in-laws was the main reason that forced women to commit suicide while most men faced financial problems.”

Is suicide preventable?

This year’s theme of World Mental Health Day, which is on October 10, is ‘suicide prevention’ as it can be prevented.

However, Dr Quratul Ain says depression is not considered an illness in Pakistan and thus, people don’t seek professional help.

“But suicide is basically a cry for help by victims. Most suicidal people do not want death; they want the pain to stop. The impulse to end it all, however, overpowering, does not last forever so proper intervention will help,” says Dr Rahman.

For prevention the assessment of suicide risk is most important, he says, adding that there are many risk factors for suicide. These include but are not limited to previous suicide attempt, presence of a psychiatric disorder, family history of suicide, losses, emotional pain and sexual abuse.

Dr Rahman elaborates that proper psycho-social intervention can save many lives. These interventions include effective management of mental, physical and substance use disorders, easy accessibility of different clinical interventions and support for those seeking help, restricted access to lethal methods of suicide, availability of family and community support, learning skills for problem solving and conflict resolution.

Related: 8 Things People With Depression Want Their Friends To Know

Mental health and stigma  

As compared to other countries, reported rate of suicide in Pakistan is low due to social stigma and legal issues that envelop the problem. Ahmed says that people don’t report suicides and try their best to hide the cause of death. “But, in 90% of the cases the police somehow find out and register a case under 174 of criminal procedure,” he shares.

According to Dr Rahman, suicide is prohibited in Islam, therefore, various obstacles restrict open discussion of the phenomenon.

“Another reason of underreporting of suicide is because it is considered a criminal offence under the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), with punitive laws imposed for attempted suicide punishable by a fine of Rs10,000 and/or imprisonment,” he adds.

Recently, the Mental Health Act (MHA) of 2013 has documented suicide as an illness and cry for help rather than a crime but this disparity in MHA & PPC has to be removed.

“It is a pity that despite its importance no official data on suicide is available and it is neither included in the national annual mortality statistics of Pakistan,” points out Dr Rahman. The compilation of accurate data is important in persuading health policymakers regarding seriousness of the issue, he says.

Keeping in view the gravity of the situation, the Sindh government has appointed a full-time psychiatrist at the Civil Hospital but it is important to note that the total population of Thar is around 1.8 million. While such an effort is good but more needs to be done before the region becomes the suicide capital of the country.

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