Today we have Ms. Saniah Ajaz (MSc, Mphil, PhD. and NLP), a psychologist with more than 8 years of experience, currently working at Abbasi Shaheed Hospital and MediSense Clinic. She provides psychological assessments such as IQ, personality, and behavior, to analyze the severity of the problem and further provides therapies on how to deal with depression and anxiety, and improve behaviors, emotions, mental health, and mindfulness.
In her past experience in the field of psychology, she has worked with many mental issues including autism spectrum disorder (ASD), stress & anxiety disorders, sexual psychotherapy, gender dysphoria, bipolar disorder, and delusional disorder.
Saniah believes that mental health is as important as physical health and she has worked with many mental health campaigns to support the cause and spread mental health awareness.
Aysha: Thank you Saniah for taking time from your busy schedule to be with us at Hope and Belief.
Saniah: No problem at all. I believe, joining hands together for this cause is the only way we can help as many people as we can.
Aysha: Saniah, let’s begin with the long-term effects of Covid-19 on mental health. Are you seeing more cases of depression, anxiety, and behavioral disorders since Covid-19?
Saniah: Yes! As we all know COVID has affected everyone all around the world – not just physically but mentally. It has definitely increased mental health issues and we are seeing more cases of stress, depression, anxiety, GAD, and OCD. People are experiencing serious health conditions, battling with the loss of their loved ones, adjusting to a new lifestyle, and coping with strict SOPs. All these factors are contributing to mental health.
Aysha: We just saw a global lockdown that has already left us all with mental issues. Now we are on the verge of a global recession. How can we all maintain good mental health during these dark times? How can we deal with depression?
Saniah: Make realistic goals according to the situation. Understand that the goals you set yesterday may not be realistic under new circumstances. Take practical steps to achieve your goals, even if it means taking small steps every day – don’t be emotionally withdrawn. Stay motivated and do small things that make you happy.
Aysha: Can you tell us about one of your most challenging cases and how it turned out?
Saniah: Sexual abuse cases are always the most challenging in terms of confidentiality issues and dealing with it ethically.
I had a young girl who was abused by her brother. She was excessively scared to see therapist or talk about it. I initiated the therapy session by first building a trust worthy relationship with her so that she can ventilate her fears and emotions. When she became comfortable in sharing her thoughts, feelings, and emotions with me, I proceeded the therapy with problem solving techniques to talk about the possible solutions that she could have.
Although she suffered a lot and the memory will stay with her forever, she is now doing well and moving forward in her life.
Aysha: What signs or symptoms indicate bad mental health and when should a person take professional help?
Saniah: We all go through some level of mental health issues throughout our life and of course, we try to get better on our own or it is just a phase that passes away. But when your mental health starts affecting your personal, professional, and/or occupational life, to the point where you cannot cope with it – it’s time to take professional help, immediately.
Aysha: There is a taboo about seeking professional help, mostly in eastern countries – it is highly disregarded and often objected to by friends and family. Do you see this in your professional career?
Saniah: Yes! A lot. It is immensely unfortunate that people think seeking professional help is bad. There is a misconception that once you seek professional mental help, you will be in a vicious cycle of therapies and medications and that you will never be able to come out. There is hardly any truth in this. Psychologists rarely prescribe medicine. The therapy plan is dependent on the patient’s condition. Some patients get better in a few therapy sessions, others might take more therapy sessions. Our end goal is never to make the patient dependent on us, but rather to teach them how to cope with their mental health issues on their own.
Aysha: What advice do you have for someone who has a mentally ill person around them?
Saniah: The first and foremost step is to normalize mental illness to the person suffering from it. Many people suffering from mental illness blame themselves for it or the people around them blame their past mistakes or sins for it. This makes matters worse. Normalize mental illness just like a physical illness and seek treatment in the same manner.
Aysha: Let’s wrap it up with one final question. You have recently published two self-help therapeutic journals – Anxiety Journal and Depression Journal, based on an authentic therapy plan. We would love to know more about them. What they are, how they can help, and how to order them?
Saniah: They are both self-help journals based on authentic therapeutic activities from Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) that we use in our therapy sessions to help people deal with their mental health issues on their own. With these journals, a person dealing with anxiety or depression will be able to help themselves and maintain better mental health on a daily basis. It’s like a psychologist in your own hands. You can easily order them at thetherapistfor.you.
This was a very insightful interview and we are certain it will help a lot of our readers. Thank you once again, Saniah for supporting Hope and Belief and our cause – promote mental health and break the mental health stigma.
Consult Saniah Ajaz, here.