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Recent studies in rural areas of Pakistan have yielded high prevalence rates of common mental disorders, especially among women.
To investigate emotional distress and common mental disorders in a poor urban district using the same survey method.
First-stage screening of a slum district of Rawalpindi used the Bradford Somatic Inventory. Psychiatric interviews were conducted with stratified samples using the ICD–10 research diagnostic criteria.
On a conservative estimate, 25% of women and 10% of men suffered from anxiety and depressive disorders. Levels of emotional distress increased with age in both men and women. Women living in joint households reported more distress than those living in unitary families. Higher levels of education were associated with lower risk of common mental disorders, especially in younger women. Emotional distress was negatively correlated with socio-economic variables among women.
This study found levels of emotional distress and psychiatric morbidity in a poor district of Rawalpindi to be less than half those in a nearby rural village in the Punjab, although rates in women were still double those in men. Possible explanations are that more healthy people migrate to the cities or that urban living is more conducive to good mental health in Pakistan.
The prevalence of psychiatric disorders in rural Punjab is unknown. Previous studies in rural areas elsewhere in the Indian subcontinent have yielded widely differing estimates.
First-stage screening of a village near Gujar Khan used the Bradford Somatic Inventory and Self Reporting Questionnaire. Psychiatric interviews were conducted with stratified samples using the ICD-10 Diagnostic Criteria for Research.
It is estimated that 66% of women and 25% of men suffered from anxiety and depressive disorders. Levels of emotional distress increased with age in both genders. Women living in unitary households reported more distress than those living in extended or joint families. With younger men and women, lower levels of education were associated with greater risk of psychiatric disorders. Social disadvantage was associated with more emotional distress.
This study in rural Punjab confirms the findings of a previous study in Chitral, northern Pakistan, of high levels of emotional distress and psychiatric morbidity among women in rural areas of Pakistan.