Depressing times


Inflation, uncertainty and the deterioration of law and order have produced depression amongst an increasing number of Lahore residents. Terrorism is not the only problem; a hike in prices of basic necessities like water, food, petrol, gas and kitchen items is also raising worries as inflation is up 15 percent.
Local health experts believe that depression is affecting the entire society in every way. The common man is losing interest in his usual activities, feeling worthless, tending to isolate from society, facing irritability, fatigue, sleeplessness problems and feeling suicidal. According to a World Bank report, Pakistanis spend more than 35 percent of their income on food items, which leaves them feeble amounts to save or spend on recreation.
Dr Aasif Iqbal said research showed one in three people in Pakistan are anxious or depressed. According to Dr Muhammad Gadit, Lahore had the highest percentage of depressed people (53.4 per cent) in 2007. He said in 2011, this percentage had increased to 73 percent primarily because of uncertainty and inflation. “Every Pakistani is in debt. Industries are closing down and business has almost finished,” said Aasif, adding that the government was taking no steps to help ease people’s lives.
Psychiatrist Najeeb Zaheer, while talking to Pakistan Today, said Pakistan was suffering great challenges while fighting the war on terror and the government was not strong enough to meet the challenges. He said, “People are unsure of their lives because of suicide attacks, and load shedding, lack of water and expensive food items have further hardened the living conditions in Pakistan, increasing depression many folds.”
A laborer Mazher said, “I work in a factory and earn Rs 7,000 per month but because of gas and electricity load shedding, the factory is often closed and the salaries are always delayed. On the other side, the utility bills and kitchen items are getting expensive leaving me helpless.” He said seeing his family suffer the lack of basic needs depresses him.
Housewife Shamsa said her husband earned Rs 13,000 per month but children’s school fees, house rent, bus fares, flour, gas, petrol and electricity prices were skyrocketing. “We can not manage our domestic expenditures in the limited resources available,” she said adding that circumstances do not allow them to fulfill their children’s justified demands.
Citizen Zafar said Pakistani society lacked recreational activities like sports, festivals and other thing that could reduce tensions and pull them out of worries, even though temporarily. Punjab University (PU) student Ammar said the future is not promising as the job market is so uncertain.. “It does not matter how educated and intelligent one is. If he can not get a job depression and frustration is inevitable.”
He said nepotism and corruption in hiring was also one cause of depression among the youth.