Depressed Pakistani women giving birth to children with 10 IQ points less


By Irfan Aligi

KARACHI: Women suffering from depression and anxiety have been seen to give birth to children who score 10 points less in IQ rating, says Karwan-e-Hayat Psychiatric Care and Rehabilitation Centre (PCRC) psychiatrist Dr Ajmal Kazmi.
Karachi Port Trust and the PCRC jointly organized a pre-conference workshop for family physicians on psychiatric problems at a local hotel on Friday. Talking to Daily Times, Kazmi said that educating general practitioners (GP) and family physicians is important because people go to GPs first.

Although 30 percent of psychiatric patients get treatment from GPs, the vast majority of patients remain undiagnosed, stressed Kazmi. Diagnosis of mental illnesses such as depression, phobias, manias, anxiety and other ailments is routinely done by consultation. However, CT scans or MRI can also be used to tell if a patient has any underlying physical problems. This will serve to suggest the next steps for the attending physician to assess mental problems, commented Kazmi.
It is roughly estimated that one in three people suffers from mental problems to a mild or moderate level, while three percent of the city’s population is affected by severe mental problems, he said.
However, it is the women who suffer more from depression and anxiety, particularly if their marital life is disturbed. Constant depression and anxiety have been known to affect women’s reproductive cycles and the lactation process. Families with disputes and quarrels often have children who are confused and young girls might experience delayed menarche or even secondary amenorrhoea. It has also been observed that women suffering from depression and anxiety through pregnancy often have less intelligent children, claimed Kazmi.

Dr Ziauddin Medical University Assistant Prof. of Psychiatry Dr Suhail Ahmed told Daily Times that resistance to treatment is very rigid at the community level and people suffering from mental illnesses, including depression, are stigmatized and are considered to suffering from obsessions. They often seek help from the so-called spiritual healers rather than medical practitioners.
Lack of civic facilities, worsened by noise and smoke pollution because of worn-out public transport vehicles, gear up mental stress and depression. People are forced to wait in long queues in the scorching heat to pay their utility bills and travel in overloaded buses. Poverty and the lack of a balanced, nutritious diet are long-time causes of mental problems, he explained.
To make matters worse, people have developed the habit of eating late, sleeping late and waking up late in the morning. Wedding ceremonies that routinely end at dawn take a great toll on mental health, he said.
The workshop was held in three phases, one each on anxiety, depression and psychosis. The speakers included Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) Assistant Prof. of Psychiatry Dr Razaur Rehman, DUHS Lyari General Hospital Assistant Prof. of Psychiatry Dr Ishaque Sarhindi, Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre Assistant Prof. of Psychiatry Dr Iqbal Afridi and others.

Source: Daily Times, 18/10/2008

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