I live in a country where people see depression as a myth, a country where suicide is the fault of the devil himself. An average Nigerian suffering from depression would not seek professional help, they somehow believe that they would get better all on their own. Most would rather talk to a pastor than seek a counsellor or a therapist. Don’t get me wrong, pastors are expert advisers but do you go to a carpenter to fix your pipes, that’s a definite no. As wise as they may seem, mental illness is not their area of expertise.
Depression is as real as real can get. Over 300 million people suffer from depression all around the world, that’s about 5% of the world’s population and it is on a steady rise. While people from all over have started to accept this reality, a lot of people in Nigeria do not even seem to understand what depression is and those who do, prefer to ignore it.
As humans, it is only normal that we feel sad at various times in our lives, a lot of things happen to induce this emotion; failure in an exam may be, watching your favourite team lose, and a lot more. Sadness and grief are basic human emotions that we all have experienced at various times but one thing that is certain is that these feelings are only there for a short while. Depression also called clinical depression or depressive disorder is a mood disorder that causes frightening symptoms that affects how you feel, think and handle daily activities such as sleeping, eating or working. It is a loss of interest in things that would normally give you pleasure. Untreated depression can lead to a lot of complications which can put your life at extreme risk.
Most times, to be diagnosed with depression, symptoms must be present nearly every day for a period of two weeks.
When feelings of sadness, grief, guilt or emptiness don’t go away within the first few weeks, this may be a sign of depression. Other emotional symptoms would include:
- Thought of suicide or death
- Problems with anger management
- Loss of interest in activities that were once of interest
- Extreme irritability over minor things
The symptoms are not only emotion based, there are a few physical symptoms;
- Increased or decreased appetite
- Increase or decrease in weight loss
- Unexplained pains and aches
- Extreme fatigue
- Insomnia or sleeping too much.
These are the major symptoms. Depression occurs across all age and race, depression in children might lead to extreme clinginess or refusal to go to school. I’ve seen a lot of parents spank their kids for not going to school instead of simply talking to them and asking them why. Having a conversation with your kids would enable them to open up to you and tell you exactly what they are experiencing.
Depression can be caused by a number of factors: