During my course of study I was completing an internship program in Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), where I came across many cases of behavioural and mental illnesses and patients, whose only aim to visit the doctor was to get their dose of anti-depressants or relaxants to calm themselves down until their next visit. I always wondered, how can just a medicine treat something that is provoked usually by a thought process or hurt feelings?
Later on, once I started practicing myself, many clients came up to me with a very low level of energy, poor self-esteem, un-explainable obesity, hair loss, short-sightedness, nervousness and undying lethargy. More than 70% of such clients were on anti-depressants or relaxants and were taking them since a very long period of time. These are the very common factors that I noticed in my clients who were on these medicines for a longer period of time. I noticed that with the passage of time, their dependability on the drug increased and their will power, aptitude, capability, capacity to deal with situations, competence, strength, and understanding suffered. Most of them complained that they get panicked more often now than before if they skip on the dose.
Interestingly, whenever I point out the fact to my clients that it may be the side effect of their medicine, most of them do not agree. It takes a lot of time and effort to make them understand and realize a simple fact that once our mind gets dependent upon a drug to do what it is supposed to do itself, the abilities weakens with the passage of time, and the mind cannot handle the stress on its own anymore. Just like our fingers play the major role while we write something with a pen, those who are now using a keyboard for a very long time, whenever they will start writing with a pen, soon they will start feeling fatigued, since the muscles are not attuned to do the job anymore.
The National Alliance on Mental Health (USA) estimates that over twenty-five million people in the U.S. will suffer from major depression this year. According to the World Health Organization more than 350 million people around the world suffer from depression. Lack of access to mental care, cost of treatment and more importantly social stigma attached with mental treatment keeps many people away from getting adequate care for depression in developing countries. According to WHO, women are more likely to have depression than men.
Although, occasional blues and feeling of sadness is common occurrence in people of all ages, those with clinical diagnosis of depression have symptoms like anger and frustration that interfere with daily life.
“Simply taking drugs is not enough. We must also show the brain what the desired connections should be,” Professor Eero Castrén of the Neuroscience Centre said.
Depression may sound like a crippling disease, but a few simple steps can help improve the conditions a lot, first and foremost, nip the evil in the bud, never ignore even the smallest symptoms, adopt a healthy living style, walk at least thirty minutes everyday, wake-up early and do not stay up till late at night. Avoid junk food, eat well and in time, stay close to your loved ones – depression is usually a sign of loneliness when thoughts and feelings cannot be shared. Develop the traits of empathy, consideration, care, love and politeness in your personality – negative behaviors generate negative feelings.
After quoting all these facts, I hope I have been able to, with a common man’s knowledge – because in our country, Pakistan, every medicine is available over counter with or without a doctor’s prescription – advocate awareness of what medicines we or our loved ones are using, how harmful they can be. I cannot fully negate the utility of an antidepressant or relaxant but its usage for a long period of time without being monitored can hinder your ability to cater to your own self. So please, look out!
Saddaf is a Behavioral Scientist also practicing as a counsellor, social worker and public speaker. She is the founder of a consultancy firm, MyPlace, aiming to enhance standard training services, especially in education.