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Swat conference: Psychiatrists call for research on treatment of mental illnesses


September 23, 2019

MINGORA: Eminent psychiatrists at the concluding day of the 23rd National Psychiatric Conference here on Sunday stressed that research should be conducted to find out new ways to treat mental diseases.

The three-day-long conference was organised by the Pakistan Psychiatric Society (PPS), and well-known psychiatrists from across the country attended the event.

The experts urged that patients should not only be provided with medicines at the right time but must be treated with respect and affection by their relatives and friends.

“Thirty-four percent citizens have been suffering from various mental diseases including anxiety, depression and schizophrenia. The causes include cousin marriages, which is a genetic vulnerability, law and order situation, conflict, terrorism and worst economic situation in the country,” said PPS President Prof Dr Muhammad Iqbal Afridi, adding that more than 20 million citizens were the victims of various mental diseases.

A noted psychiatrist, chairman of Horizon, a Peshawar-based welfare non-governmental organisation, Professor Dr Khalid Mufti, spoke on “Spirituality and Mental health – an Islamic perspective”.

The senior psychiatrist, who is also the zonal president of the World Psychiatric Association, talked in details on Islamic spirituality, its role in emotional and mental wellbeing, core features to regulate emotional balance, spiritual intelligence, relation of high spirituality with positive state of mind, strong protective and therapeutic properties, positive psychology and self-regulation, role of spirituality in prevention and treatment of mental illness and recognition of spirituality in psychiatry.

Prof Dr Khalid Mufti pointed out that salaat (prayer) and zikr relieved anxiety. He explained dua as therapy and a way of coping with stress.

A psychiatrist from Lahore, Prof Naila Riazur Rahman, said that poverty, violence and terrorism were the main causes of depression.

“Domestic violence is the reason in most cases for depression. We need to treat women with kindness and give them their due rights in inheritance,” she added.

Psychiatrist Dr Nizal Ali said the numbers of patients were increasing in Swat valley and adjacent districts. He added that people of the valley have not come out of the anxiety and mental stress that they faced in the past due to the worsening law and order situation.

Hailing from Swat, a female student of psychology at Government Girls Degree College Saidu Sharif, Sumaira Ihsan, said that she learnt a lot from the conference, which was not known to her before.

“Psychology and psychiatry are inter-related fields, and in this conference not only the speakers discussed the relationship between the two fields but also provided us with relevant literature,” she added.

Prof Dr Mukhtarul Haq Azeemi said that WHO had assessed that depression would be the second-largest killer by 2020 across the world after cardiovascular diseases.

“People of Swat have been the victims of militancy, flood and other disasters, and mental diseases are common here. I hope that through this conference, patients will get awareness and guidance,” he said and thanked the prominent psychiatrists for visiting Swat valley and attending the workshop.

He asked the federal and provincial government to come forward and provide funds to cope with mental diseases.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Secretary Muhammad Yahya Akhunzada said that the government was committed to providing every possible facility to hospitals to help out the patients.