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Lebanese Suffer from Collective Depression, 'Held Prisoner in Own Country'

Lebanese Suffer from Collective Depression, 'Held Prisoner in Own Country'

Sunday, 29 November, 2020 - 08:00
A man stands next to graffiti at the damaged port area in the aftermath of the massive explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, August 11, 2020. (Reuters)

The Lebanese people are leading the worst live on earth, concluded a recent Gallup poll.


Only 4 percent of Lebanese people surveyed assessed their life positively enough to consider it “thriving”, it added, making it the worst result in the poll that covered 2018 and 2019.


The results are in no way shocking to any Lebanese citizen, even if they do cover 2019, before the emergence of the novel coronavirus pandemic that upended lives across the globe.


Lebanon’s crises began to emerge shortly before the pandemic, in October 2019 and deepened in 2020 in wake of the virus outbreak and after the August 4 blast at Beirut port.


Given the strains of daily life, it is no surprise that antidepressants are flying off the shelves in Lebanon amid speculation that they will no longer be subsidized. People have therefore, resorted to stocking up on the medication, causing a shortage in the market.


Head of the Pharmacists Syndicate Ghassan al-Amin told Asharq Al-Awsat that there has been a noticeable 20 percent rise in the use of antidepressants in the country since 2015.


The use of antidepressants is understandable, said clinical psychologist Rania al-Boubou.


The Lebanese people “have grown tired of searching for solutions and they have lost all hope of finding them.” Antidepressants are the only way to deal with their stress, she told Asharq Al-Awsat.


“Everyone in Lebanon is living in fear. They are constantly worried and wrapped in dark thoughts,” she added, saying society is suffering from “collective depression.”


Such negative feelings often play out in relationships between the people and in their daily lives, she went on to say. In such cases, she said it was not unusual to witness a rise in domestic violence and crimes sparked by minor incidents, such a traffic dispute. Suicidal thoughts also emerge.


Indeed, the National Commission for Lebanese Women revealed that it has witnessed a 51 percent increase in domestic violence between February and October.


The suicide rate in Lebanon has not increased, but four cases were reported in a space of two days in July.


Al-Boubou spoke of how the Lebanese people have lost their sense of security amid the lack of a safety net that could protect them. Moreover, they feel that they are “prisoners in their own country” due to the travel restrictions imposed by the pandemic.


“Most countries throughout the world will not welcome Lebanese people due to pandemic and political concerns,” she remarked, adding that the hardest part was the citizens’ feeling of being tied down with a ruling authority that threatens every aspect of their life, including their food and health safety.


The people consequently feel that they have been deprived of their freewill and will seek any opportunity for hope even if it were rife with dangers, she said, citing the example of Lebanese people who sought illegal immigration by sea.


The United Nations showed that some 30 boats carrying illegal migrants had departed Lebanon between July and October.


Al-Boubou warned that the persistence of this dire situation in Lebanon “may lead to a rise in psychological problems, surrender or a social explosion, prompted by the sense that the people have nothing left to lose.”


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