DEPRESSION — Types, Symptoms or Signs, Causes, Cure, Effects in Nigeria

Sometimes, we feel sad, have a loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities due to bereavement, the loss of a job or, ugly occurrences. These are feelings familiar to everyone anywhere in the world. However, if these sad feelings persist over a long time, such that you begin to get uninterested in things you enjoy doing, then your mental health is at risk. Mental Health is a word that has become popular in this generation especially on Social Media and Depression is the most common type. Depression is different from usual mood swings and short-lived emotional responses to challenges in everyday life

Depression is a serious illness caused by changes in brain chemistry. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is a global crisis and the leading cause of disability worldwide and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease. Depression is a common mental disorder. Globally, more than 264 million people of all ages suffer from depression. It is a medical condition that affects every human, irrespective of age, including children. Depression affects how you feel about yourself and makes life more difficult to live daily. It is an enervating mood disorder, as it drains energy and it has become prevalent around the world, including in Nigeria.

WHO reports that at a prevalence rate of 3.9%, 7 million Nigerians currently suffer from depression. A study conducted in Western Nigeria in 2013 also reported that as high as 44.5% of clinical patients are depressed.

Types of Depression

Major depressive disorder (MDD): Major depression (clinical depression) has intense or overwhelming symptoms that last longer than two weeks. These symptoms interfere with everyday life.

Bipolar depression:

People with bipolar disorder have alternating periods of low mood and extremely high-energy (manic) periods. During the low period, they may have depression symptoms such as feeling sad or hopeless or lacking energy.

Perinatal and postpartum depression

“Perinatal” means around birth. Many people refer to this type as postpartum depression. Perinatal depression can occur during pregnancy and up to one year after having a baby. Symptoms go beyond “the baby blues,” which causes minor sadness, worry, or stress.

Persistent depressive disorder (PDD)

PDD is also known as dysthymia. Symptoms of PDD are less severe than major depression. But people experience PDD symptoms for two years or longer.

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder is a severe form of the premenstrual disorder (PMS). It affects women in the days or weeks leading up to their menstrual period.

Psychotic depression

People with psychotic depression have severe depressive symptoms, delusions, or hallucinations. Delusions are beliefs in things that are not based on reality, while hallucinations involve seeing, hearing, or feeling touched by things that aren’t there.

Symptoms/Signs of Depression

Shown in Behavior

  • Uninterested in enjoyable activities that normally give you joy
  • Relying on alcohol and sedatives to keep yourself lively
  • Constant loss of concentration
  • Constant dull mood
  • Withdrawing from close family and friends
  • Agitations and nervousness.
  • Hallucinations

Shown in Feelings

  • Disappointed & Guilty.
  • Always Aggressive & Frustrated
  • Sad & looking Miserable
  • Easily irritable & ill-tempered.
  • Lacking in confidence.
  • Sluggish & Unmotivated.
  • Feeling of hopelessness & helplessness.
  • Thoughts of Death & Suicide

Shown in Physical Look

  • Migraines, Headaches & muscle pains.
  • Loss or change of appetite.
  • Significant weight loss or gain.
  • Insomnia & excessive sleepiness
  • Fatigue and lack of energy.
  • Always sick & Tired.

In Teens & children, symptoms can make schoolwork and social activities challenging. They may experience symptoms such as crying, low energy, clinginess, defiant behavior, vocal outbursts. Younger children may have difficulty expressing how they feel in words, feeling guilty, helpless, or worthless, restlessness, such as an inability to sit still. This can make it harder for them to explain their feelings of sadness.

Causes of Depression in Nigeria

There are many causes of Depression in Nigeria, however, these vary from factors such as Gender, Genetics, Temperaments, Medication, etc.

Depression relating to Genders

Depression in Women

According to WHO, the burden of depression is 50% higher in females than in males. Studies in Nigeria have also reported that the cultural stigma of being female is a significant risk factor for depression, as the Male Child is more valued & accepted in most cultures.

Other causes of depression affecting the female Gender include :

  • Low Socioeconomic Status
  • Physical & Sexual Violence in Marriages & relationships
  • Divorce & Single-motherhood
  • Antenatal depression: a form of depression among pregnant women.

Depression in Men

Nigerian Men also suffer depression, though reports show it is more popular amongst Millenials than older generations. This is not to say the latter don’t suffer from this. Due to culture, the Nigerian men have been brought u to hide their emotions else they will be seen as being weak. This hasn’t helped either as suicide & mental breakdowns are being reported almost on a daily case. Causes of Depression in Men consist:

  • Financial Difficulties
  • Poverty
  • Emotional Breakdown caused by Divorce, heartbreaks, etc.

Non-Gender related Causes:

Genetics: If you have a relative with depression, you may be more likely to become depressed.

Life events: Stress, the death of a loved one, upsetting events (trauma), isolation, and lack of support can cause depression.

Medical conditions: Ongoing physical pain and illnesses can cause depression. People often have depression along with conditions like diabetes, cancer, and Parkinson’s disease.

Medication: Some medications have depression as a side effect. Recreational drugs and alcohol can also cause depression or make it worse.

Temperament & Personality: People who are easily overwhelmed, have mood swings, or have trouble coping with pressure may be prone to depression.

Other Causes of Depression in Nigeria include

Stigma,

cyberbullying,

Body-shaming,

Poor Academic Grade, etc.

Effects of Depression in Nigeria

Depression is so prevalent in Nigeria especially amongst Millenials and Gen Z age group. Its nasty effects include the following:

  1. High Mortality
    Depression is the leading cause of suicide in Nigeria; sadly, suicide has been one of the most prevalent causes of death amongst Youth & Teenagers especially students in Tertiary institutions. ( link of news about Students & people in Nigeria who committed suicide due to depression). The frequently reported cases of young people committing suicide are alarming including prisoners & internally displaced persons. At this rate, it’s becoming a worrisome amount of deaths.
  2. Drug Addiction
    One of the ways people suffering from depression deal with this illness is by using drugs & ingesting alcohol. They believe these drugs & alcohol can alter their mood and help them forget their worries. What’s more, those at risk for depression are also at greater risk of drug abuse and developing alcoholism.
  3. Anxiety, panic disorder, or social phobia

  4. Excess weight or obesity, which can lead to heart disease and diabetes

  5. Family conflicts, relationship difficulties, and work or school problems

  6. Tackling Depression in Nigeria

Everyone needs to be intentionally involved in fighting depression in Nigeria. With the high poverty rate in Africa’s most populous nation, and the difficulties faced by her citizens every day, the prevalence of depression among Nigerians will likely continue to increase.

The peculiarity of the Nigerian populace (just like an average African Nation), compared to developed Country is the issue of cultural & religious beliefs. The cultural bias which pits the boy-child above the girl-child, which causes Stigma is one main cause of depression. Every Family must be educated to know that every child irrespective of their gender, should be given equal love and opportunities.

Instead of approaching depression medically, an average Nigerian believes otherwise and would rather seek spiritual help. This writing is not aimed at talking down People’s beliefs, rather it is to point our attention to the need for a Therapeutic approach to curing depression.

Cure For Depression

Therapeutic Approach to Curing Depression

  1. Create Awareness

    The first step towards tackling these issues is raising awareness in the communities & educating every family about it.

    WHO advises that “Mental health services should become an integral and functional part of primary health care, to ensure universal access. There is also a need for more mental health practitioners in the country to meet the needs of the ever-growing number of people who will need to be treated. It is important that health workers actively seek to diagnose depression among patients and provide the appropriate health services to ensure they get optimum treatment”.

  2. Self-help groups (also called Peer support groups)

    One of the best ways to get cured of depression is to get ourselves with people. Talking through your feelings can be helpful. Group meetings with other people with depression can be helpful for some people. These groups, especially when well run and organized, provide insight into day-to-day coping with the disorder. Find out more about depression support groups. This therapy is for Mild to moderate depression

  3. Talking therapy

    If you have mild depression that isn’t improving, or you have moderate depression, it is recommended you visit a counselor for a talking treatment (a type of psychotherapy). There are different types of talking therapy for depression, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and counseling.

  4. Mental health teams

    If you have severe depression, you may be referred to a mental health team made up of psychologists, psychiatrists, specialist nurses, and occupational therapists. These teams often provide intensive specialist talking treatments as well as prescribed medication. They will likely do blood tests to check for medical conditions that may cause depressive symptoms and offer the following medical therapy:

Antidepressants

Antidepressants are tablets that treat the symptoms of depression. There are almost 30 different kinds of antidepressants. They have to be prescribed by a doctor, usually for depression that is moderate or severe.

Home Remedies for Depression

In as much as Medical help is best advised, it is also advisable to observe some home remedies to help overcome depression.

  1. Get enough sleep.

    Whether you’re dealing with major depression or just looking to boost your mood, improving your sleep hygiene is an important first step. Go to bed at the same time each day, turn off the screens a bit earlier than normal, and look into light therapy if your work schedule means you don’t get much sunlight.

  2. Exercise

    Exercise is incredibly valuable, not only for general health but also for its mood-boosting effects. You don’t need to run a marathon to reap the benefits of exercise. In a recent study, researchers had depressed patients pedal a stationary bike, measuring their subjective symptoms and cortisol (stress hormone) levels before and afterward. They found that after just 15 minutes of exercise, both the patients’ symptoms of depression and cortisol levels were significantly reduced.

  3. Regulate your blood sugar

    According to one study, sugar may have a bigger role to play in depression than originally thought. Researchers analyzed data from six countries and found a highly significant correlation between sugar consumption and depression rates. Whether you’re battling depression or just trying to avoid the afternoon crash, balancing your blood sugar is key. Make sure to eat regular meals and snacks, including a good source of protein for everyone.

  4. Eat healthy fats

    Are you getting enough fish in your diet? Researchers have found that eating omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (like those found in salmon, trout, and sardines) reduces symptoms of depression. Try to eat food containing Omega-3s.

Cut back on Social Media

Research has shown that increased social media usage can cause or contribute to depression and low self-esteem. This happens a lot when a person struggling with his/her career sees the success of others, possibly age-mates succeed. Cases like Cyberbullying, Body-Shaming have also been associated with Social Media. Social media can be addicting, and it’s a necessity to stay connected with family, friends, and even coworkers. However, limiting social media time can help prevent depression. You can do this by:

  • Deleting all social apps from your phone
  • Using website-blocking extensions that only let you use certain sites for a preset amount of time
  • Only going to social media with a purpose and avoiding logging on several times a day just for something to do

Reduce stress

Stress is one of the leading causes of chronic depression. Learn how to manage stress & avoid activities that usually cause stress. Learn to let go of things you can’t control. Plan your time and stick to it.

Government Intervention

One of the major ways depression should be combated to prevent it from being an epidemic is for the Government at all levels to step in through the following:

  • Partnering with NGOs to educate & create awareness around the country about the nasty effects of depression. They can also employ social workers to spread this awareness, especially in remote areas.
  • Formulate policies to curb cyber-bully and online assaults.
  • Create empowerment programs to create jobs, tackle unemployment & poverty in the country.
  • Create policies to combat domestic violence, rape, and all forms of sexual harassment.

Depression is a common condition that affects millions of Nigerians every year. Anyone can experience depression — even if there doesn’t seem to be a reason for it. The good news is that depression is treatable. If you have symptoms of depression, talk to your healthcare provider. The sooner you get help, the sooner you can feel better.

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