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Seeing a psychiatrist does not mean you are insane

  |  May 8, 2013

When someone gets extremely sick, most likely she will see a doctor. Similarly, seeing a psychiatrist means the patient needs help and advice. Unfortunately, in Arab society, going to a psychiatrist often suggests to family members that the patient is insane or a lunatic.

It is not in our culture to seek psychiatric help. However if more people were  to start consulting one, the practice might become contagious, thus helping us become a healthy and tranquil society. Keeping mental health a secret is a shortcoming in our thinking. Many lives have been destroyed because some families refuse to seek help. I have met some girls who are depressed, stress or have other mood disorders. They told me that when they have tried to discuss it with their parents, they are not taken seriously.

I believe girls in the UAE suffer from mood disorders more than boys because too often, girls are expected to stay at home and follow the guideline and rules set by their families. They bottle up their pains and grievances until they become full. Sometimes, these girls find solace in drinking and drugs because they are lonely and do not have someone who understands their problems.

As for boys, they can go outside and release their stress. I once read that seeing greenery relaxes the mind. Those who live here know that there are few places to get a glimpse of greenery.

Many girls would not dare to talk about their daily struggles with just anyone,  fearing it might damage their families' reputations.

Our society can be mysterious. Some people think that providing children with material possessions is sufficient for their well-being. No matter how much money parents shower upon their children, nothing can make up for the lack of an emotional bond. Parents first need to educate themselves about the ongoing disorders that many girls have and keep track of their children's needs.

A few days ago, a friend of mine shared a story. A mother of three, the woman was obsessed with cleaning her bathroom over and over again. Her husband, after a long internal struggle, booked an appointment for her to see a psychiatrist. After seeing some people behaving erratically at the doctor's office, he changed his mind.

It has been seven years since his wife has struggled with her obsession, and she will continue to do so because of her husband's fear. What is better: consulting a psychiatrist or seeing his wife clean the bathroom obsessively?

Psychiatrists are there to help and lessen the burden on us not to make life difficult.