By Sherazade Khan
In a society where the word ‘marital’ is almost always followed by ‘bliss’, it is surprising that women who enter said bliss, apparently find it suffocating. Facts suggest that majority of the women are going through depression in Pakistan are married.
Being with a man is considered a guaranteed way to happiness, but it seems like this is a farce built by our innate patriarchal values.
According to a clinical assessment at Agha Khan University Hospital, 72% of women facing mental health issues in Pakistan are married and have a career. They are the super women you think are living the ‘perfect’ life; balancing their responsibilities at work and home perfectly.
But is their life as perfect as it seems?
“Almost three out of four female patients are suffering from dysthymia or chronic depression,” reveals Dr. Unaiza Niaz, a psychotherapist.
The sad truth is that majority of the women who do seek help, are between the ages of 20 and 45.
Isn’t this surprising?
Compared to a developed country like the US, these figures seem a little strange. In 2014, a study reported that depression is most prevalent amongst middle aged females (aged 45-64) in America. And that makes much more sense.
According to HR Review, “Females aged 45-54 reported higher levels of work related stress, depression and anxiety than all other age groups…some of it may also result from the pressures of juggling work and caring responsibilities. Another cause of stress and physiological symptoms for many older women is the menopause.”
But as we all know, females from age 20-45 are at the prime of their career, health, and life. Then why are they feeling ‘distressed’?
According to Dr. Niaz, the societal norms and cultural practices are largely to blame for this ‘distressed’ mental state that we often find ourselves in.
Dr Niaz attributes the increase in mental illness amongst females to the overwhelming and hard life that most women are leading
“The extended family system (and) role of in-laws in daily lives of women, represent major issues and stressors,” she says.
Though many of us think we are above and beyond these limitations since we live in the city and belong to a progressive strata of the society, the truth is that we are not.
“The urban Pakistani women,” shares Dr Niaz, “in many aspects are almost at par with the women of developed countries. But the archaic, brutal, and clearly oppressive trends seen in the rural areas often seep into the urban cities, affecting women’s education and work opportunities.”
Add to that sexual harassment, violence against women, and gender inequality, and you have got yourself a recipe for a disaster when it comes to your mental health and wellness.
With awareness on the rise, help available, and more space to speak out against injustices against us, we mustn’t let our circumstances drive us to insanity. No matter how bad it may seem, remember, there is always hope!