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October 21, 2018

Mental disorders twice among women than men


October 21, 2018

Rawalpindi : Three community-based whole-population studies conducted in Chitral, Gujar Khan and Rawalpindi by top level psychiatrist Professor Fareed Minhas and David Mumford have left a number of questions to be answered yet revealing that prevalence of common mental disorders among women is twice as compared to men in all areas.

Former Head of Institute of Psychiatry and Director WHO Collaborating Centre for Mental Health Research and Training at Benazir Bhutto Hospital Professor Dr. Fareed Minhas and consultant psychologist in UK David Mumford conducted the studies that have also revealed that prevalence of common mental disorders in an urban setting (Rawalpindi) is less than half as compared to rural areas (Gujar Khan and Chitral).

Community-based studies of mental disorders yield uniquely important information about their prevalence and aetiology, the cause of the disease that no other type of psychiatric research can match. It is interesting that the incidence of common mental disorders is much lesser among migrants, the people who left villages for settlement in urban areas as compared to rural population, said Professor Minhas while talking to ‘The News’ on Saturday.

He said the studies also identified some demographic and social factors which correlate with the presentation of these mental disorders, and may help towards explaining their unexpected findings. Similarly, people who left Pakistan for abroad for settlement or for longer period of time have low rate of mental disorders, he said.

The important question whose answer we want to get is whether a person’s mental health improves by moving to a city in Pakistan or is it the more healthy individuals and families who migrate?, said Dr. Minhas.

It is important to know in what respects the urban living is more conducive to good mental health.

Another question that is important is that why do women in Pakistan have twice the rate of common mental disorders as compared to men and what are the principal factors behind this finding, and what is their relative importance, he said. He said by getting answers to the questions, we may be able to work out strategies for the primary prevention of common mental disorders in women.

The rate of prevalence of common mental disorders has a direct impact on socio-economic conditions of a family and society, he said.

Specifically, it has been revealed that in women but not men, the type of family structure including unitary, extended or joint family impacts on the risk of developing a common mental disorder, in complex ways but it is yet to be explored that how such family structures impacted by the move from village to city, said Dr. Minhas.

He said a very effective way of addressing these questions would be through a longitudinal cohort study, for a period of 10 to 15 years or so. By following up a defined rural population over many years, this study could monitor changes over time, including migration to a city and changes to family structures, and measure the effects on mental health, he said.

He suggested that electronic ‘tagging’ by National Identity Cards and mobile phones would greatly facilitate comprehensive follow-up of the cohort. He said his team is planning these studies and anyone interested to join him or contribute in anyways, would be welcome.

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