By Amira Elhamy
“National depression”, is the word that Dr. Ahmed Okasha, have used to describe a psychological state that many Egyptians might be experiencing nowadays. Okasha states in his book “The Road to Happiness”, that curing this state of “national depression” can be done by decision makers not psychologists!. Dr. Ahmed Okasha explains that national depression within Egyptians is due to several factors; disappointment, loss of hope for a better future, and considering the Egyptian citizen as a second degree citizen who is striving to get the basic necessities of his daily life, are the main factors. Okasha adds that unemployment is one of the most significant reasons behind the state of anger and despair that the Egyptian citizens, especially youth, are suffering from; he went on to explain that corruption, lack of good role models, unfulfilled political promises made by some officials make youth extremely disappointed and not eager to work hard; and these psychological accumulations eventually eradicate the sense of belonging and patriotism.
Too many challenges:
- H, 30 years old, an Egyptian citizen living in the US, explains to MEO how hard it was for him to live in Egypt. “ I used to jump from one job to other ; I couldn’t stay in one job for a long time; salaries were not adequate to sustain a good standard of living; I felt people’ s manners changed a lot; I did not want to change or get corrupted in order to be able to work. I was different; I felt alienated in my own country.”
M.H went on to explain: “Now I live in the United States, I believe it is a beautiful country; everyone is treated like a human being ; even the animals! I cannot say that everything is perfect in the US, however the citizen is well taken care of. Furthermore I would say that they always strive to solve any problem bravely and clearly as well. I believe the US is a country where I found a second chance, says M.H.
A.N. a 35 years old Egyptian citizen living in Egypt states to MEO, that youth are faced with major challenges nowadays; one of them is getting married!. A.N, explains “ Marriage needs a lot of expenses; it is very hard to find a good flat with a reasonable price these days; when I think about having children and the expenses that I must be paying for their education, with the unbelievably high tuitions, health care and other necessities,I say to myself that this is a very big step to take.” He adds that marriage is becoming a challenge in itself.!
Mohamed Fateen, Doctor and lecturer in Kasr El Eini, faculty of medicine, talks about the difficulties he faces as a married young man with two kids and starting to draw his career path. Fateen states: “ I would say that the big increase in most of the prices is really worrying as I am about to start my own business which is running a laboratory; I find it very hard to buy all the necessary equipment nowadays as they got more expensive due to the devaluation of the Egyptian pound. Today I am paying almost 40% more than what I would have paid if I had opened the lab last year. All these Of course is affecting my personal life as my family and I have to be more aware with our spending these days and not to exceed our monthly budget which is not easy at all; our daily necessities have tremendously increased. Actually its very worrying especially that I am the sole provider for my family as my wife has left her work to take care of the kids.
Since 2002, I started to feel more and more dissatisfied with the situation in Egypt.”
Drugs are never the solution:
Okasha in his book “Road to happiness”; tackles a very critical issue, which is drug addiction; he explains that human beings are born with natural drugs that are emitted by our brains; however when the human being experience disappointments and despair the emission of natural drugs in our brain decreases, like dopamine and endorphins, which explains why many people start getting addicted to external drugs when they get overburdened by difficulties and challenges that they cannot face.
Related to the previous point, Dr. Rania Mamduh lecturer of psychiatry Cairo University states to MEO that , the national research for drug addiction, which was conducted in 27 governorates in Egypt consecutively in 2011, 2013 and 2015 indicate that drug addiction has increased over the period 2011 until 2015.
Mamduh states that hash takes the first rank in the most consumed drugs in Egypt, followed by Tramadol, then alcohol and Heroine. She indicates that the age groups that is mostly addicted to drugs is between 18 and 25; furthermore drug addiction is mostly common within C class and Egyptians with a low level of education.
Dr. Rania also states to MEO that recent reports indicate that after 2011 Egyptians have experienced what is called “post traumatic depressions”; lack of security, unbalanced political systems and chaos following social upheavals which did affect the psychological health of many Egyptians ; Mamduh added that following 2011 unemployment rates did increase as well.
The good news is:
There is no doubt that maintaining what psychologists call a positive mental attitude could be hard with all the pressures and challenges that Egyptians are experiencing; however, Okasha indicates in his book that faith is one of the major factors that help maintaining a balanced psychological health in hard times. He sates that overcoming depression can be easier if we have faith and strong social ties. Okasha explains that having strong and fruitful social relationships with family and friends give the human being a great sense of support that can push him to fight despair, as these ties strengthen the sense of belonging for every human being. He adds that there is a role that must be played by government officials and political leaders as well. He specifies that governments in various countries must be keen to work on establishing democratic political systems and delivering suitable health care and psychological care systems for its citizens.
To sum up, it is important to highlight that in facing anger and despair personal factors are key elements, faith stability and family ties; along with government support to youth, through loan granting and financial support to SMEs and startups.
If these steps are accomplished youth would be able to overcome the various challenges they face everyday.