Depression is a severe and typically prolonged feeling of sadness and dejection. It is a persistent mental state of sadness, discouragement and hopelessness.
-Nigeria ranks 15th in the world for suicides
-60 million Nigerians report experiencing depressive symptoms
-7 million Nigerians are diagnosed with severe cases of depression according to the World Health Organization (WHO)
-350 million people are depressed globally
Symptoms of depression
How do you know if someone is depressed? The following symptoms are red flags:
1-Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness: When you feel nothing will get better and there’s nothing you can do to improve your situation.
2-Loss of interests in daily activities: When you just don’t care anymore about your social activities, hobbies and pastimes and when you no longer derive pleasure and joy
3-Appetite or Weight Changes: Sometimes when people are depressed they experience a change of more than 5% in their bodyweight within a space of a month. They could either drastically gain or lose weight
4-Sleep Changes: Insomnia (lack of sleep) and oversleeping
5- Anger or Irritability: Feeling restless, violent or agitated. Your temper is short, everything and everyone gets on your nerves.
6-Loss of energy: Extreme fatigue, your body feels heavy and sluggish while small tasks quickly exhaust you
7-Self-hatred: You experience strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt
8- Reckless behavior: This could be seen in substance and alcohol abuse, compulsive gambling and dangerous driving
Causes of depression
What causes depression? It could be due to a combination of biological, psychological and social factors. These risk factors make you more vulnerable to depression:
1- Financial challenges
2- Early childhood trauma or abuse
3-Marital or relationship problems
4-Alcohol or drug abuse
5-Recent stressful life experiences
6-Unemployment or underemployment
7- Health problems or chronic pain
8- Lack of social support
9-Loneliness or isolation
Ways to treat or cure depression
There are simple practical ways to mitigate or handle depression, these include:
1-Exercise: Regular exercise as simple as 20 to 30 mins of brisk walking 2 or 3 times a week can help overcome depression. Exercise increases the activity levels of important brain chemicals like Dopamine and Serotonin which enhances “feeling good”
2- Get regular exposure to sunlight: A link exists between prolonged lack of exposure to sunlight and depression. This is because the brain measures the amount of daily light you get and uses this information to reset the internal clock of the body. Lack of sunlight throws your body off balance and disrupts the body’s regulation of energy, sleep, appetite and hormone levels.
3-Social support: Relationships play a key role in helping cure depression. The hormones involved in bonding and helping behaviour can reduce anxiety and stress related to depression. Talking to someone about your feelings and problems can help talk you out of depression and prevent a reoccurrence.
4-Medical treatment: Severe cases of depressions which fail to be addressed by the simple steps mentioned can then be referred to qualified medical personnel for further investigation, diagnosis and treatment using drugs and other forms of therapy.
In conclusion, don’t suffer in silence, now that you are better informed and educated about depression: its symptoms, causes and cure.