The invisible disease

By Ashraf Ali Muhammad Virani
June 23 - 29, 2003

Stress had been called "the invisible disease". It is a disease that may affect you, your organization, and any of the people in it, so you cannot afford or ignore it. (The Essential Manager's Manual, 1999). Occasionally, all of us experience stress, both beneficial and harmful. Beneficial stress can lead to become champions but on the other hand harmful stress can derive to despair. I, as a citizen of Pakistan experience and observe so many stresses in my daily life, which lead to different abnormal pathological condition, and its results are very vandalistic. My further discussion in this paper will let us know that how many stresses are there in Pakistan and what is the outcome of those stresses.

Stress and psychological health in individual is defined as "any interference that disturbs a person's healthy mental and physical well being. It occurs when body is requires to perform beyond its normal range of capabilities". (The Essential Manager's Manual, 1999). In Pakistan there are many types of stressors both in male and female, for example, isolation, living with the extended family, conflicts with offspring, unhappy marriage, unemployment, culture, environment, more children and less earning, stress of studies, sexual abuse of girls while going to schools and college, stress for mother while doing the house hold work and bearing daughter in rural areas and stress of men for her daughter in order to give her dowry (many a times happen in urban areas).

Different stressors can lead to different changes physically as well as psychologically. The stressors that are explained above are some of the common stressors in Pakistan. Both men and women are equally affected due to these stressors. According to studies 41% of Pakistani women have severe depression and it is found that they were to be twice likely to exceed the threshold for depression as compare to white women i-e 30% and 14% respectively. (General Discussion, Dr. Atta Jamri, 1997). In Pakistan these stressors are explained as the work for the men and women and do not deal as a stressors. As many of them do not know the definition of the stress, so they also don't know how to overcome it or find a solution for it. They live their life as they are living before and even do not bother to find out the answers of the questions they have or don't even think that why this happen to them? Stress is some times a personal feeling of a person they can only overcome it by discuss or share it with some other person who is close to him/her but this do not happen in our society, city or country because our culture and environment in which we are living. We hide ourselves from the fact and live the same life.

Isolation is one of the stressors of Pakistan, mainly happen in women. The reason behind this is that culturally women are not supposed to go out of the house and do not talk to people even if they live in their neighbors. In rural areas they are not sent to school because the environment and culture do not allow this. Because of this, women in rural areas are quiet, shy and feel hesitate to share anything with anybody, nor with their husbands. These can lead to many consequences like severe depression, headache, insomnia, high blood pressure and a lot more, which indirectly affects their body systems badly, which results in different diseases. On the other hand many women and men in urban areas are so civilized that they share each other problems and try to solve it rather than hide it, this results in good health and active life. No doubt the women in urban areas are also sometimes more depressed as compare to rural areas because of money, business and life styles. Isolation also occurs in men as well and they also become depressed. For example, when a man is not able to work and have to live at home all the time becomes more fussy and touchy. I have no data regarding this stressor but as I have an interest in travelling, so I have been to different places of interior Sindh and Northern areas, so I observe all these habits and practices there.

Unhappy marriage is one of the big stresses in Pakistan. In this, parents do not agree with the children to marry the one to whom they want to marry which results in conflicts of children and parents. Parents think that they are superior and they have right to decide their children marriage whereas, children thought in opposite way that they have to do the marriage and began a new life so they have full authority to decide to whom they want to marry. This type of conflicts affects a person mentally, as they do not accept the person to whom they are married forcefully, which live an unpleasant life, which have no organization and ability to work together. Elsewhere, afterwards offspring also suffers as there parents don't show any attention and responsibilities to them. Again if there are more children and the earning person is one than one more tension evolved. That person has to fulfill the demands of the children as well as of the housewife. Frustration takes place in place of peace at home and that earning person will also have stress by thinking that he/she has to pay this bill, fees or buy something. So by having a right decision with mutual understanding of both parents and children can live a better life.

Study itself a huge stress for a student. I would say that writing this article is also a stress or burden for me. Why student feels that study is a stress? Definitely there would be some reasons behind that. Few reasons are that teacher gives burden to the student that they feel burden and again study many subject together as a stress. Assignments, presentation and exams create a tension to the student, no doubt student work hard for this till the end but by thinking and studying continuously make a student stressed out. I want to share news from The Review, Dawn that "Oma Devi hanged herself in her hostel room. She was a second year medical student at the People's Medical College, Nawabshah. People close to her said that she was under a lot of strain when she came back from the campus because she had failed her biochemistry and physiology exams. The teachers were charged with blackmailing girls and using unfair standards while grading their papers. However, her relatives kept silent and stated depression as the main cause behind Oma's suicide". (Nasir Khokhar, 2002). I think that by sharing this review, I am much clear with my point that how studies can lead to depression. Again boys and men are sexually harassing the girls who are going to schools and colleges. When the girls are standing at the bus stop, many eyes harassed her, sometimes they also try to touch them especially to their sexual regions. I would share my experience in this that many a times it happens with me as well when I come back from the college and in the street men try to cross over me and touch me. I feel so bad at that time and want to say something to that person but I kept quiet because of my shyness only. So all these aspects can lead to tension, stress and depression to a student and to parents as well, as they always thinks that what will happen with my daughter? This is one of the reason that why parents prefer education for boys and not for girls. This also happens in both rural and urban area.

Traditional, cultural and environmental stressors also affect a person's life. Tradition is the same for all in a particular society and does not change. So, if a person is fails to accomplish that have stress and people in society also given him/her teasing for the same purpose. Cultural also comes under a particular society and everybody has to fulfill this. Environment also affects a person's life as he/she has to follow the same environment. For this, I would take the example of marriage of a girl and her father has to arrange everything. What happens that according to the tradition that father has to arrange a dowry, culturally follow all the ceremonies and environmentally he has to fulfill the demand of people who are invited to attend the marriage ceremony as well as the in-laws of the daughter. All these responsibilities lead to tension for a father. He always thinks that how can he make all these possible arrangements and perform her daughter's marriage successfully? So, all this thinking and perceptions lead to a tension and stress for a family member, which ultimately lead to other family members. Mainly all this happens in rural areas may be it is more obvious there because people over there are poor and in urban area people hide all this by the source of money, but an internal tension is always present in both the cases.

As we have live examples for stress and we also know the reasons of that stress, the only thing is that we have to find the solutions of that stress and overcome that. What I think is that, when we know the reason of a particular stress we automatically rule out the rationale behind that stress. The main purpose of this article is to give awareness to the people that if they overcome the stress then they are reducing the percentage of physical and psychological problems which is very important in our daily life situation.