Health Talk: Depression, A Fast-Spreading Rampant Virus in Africa

Depression is a term which has risen to its peak in the last two years, most especially within the African continent. Like a virus without cure, it has spread like wild fire and unfortunately seems to be misleading, torturing and shortening a lot of lives.

Allow me tell you a short story…

I once knew an acquaintance in 2011 when I did my A-levels, his name was Soji. I knew Soji through a friend of mine who was also his mutual friend Gbenga.

While we never really discussed so much asides exchanging pleasantries, Soji was actually a quite brilliant, funny and jovial dude. Our exams were over and life began for us all as we went into different higher institutions to pursue our different dreams. Over the years, I lost touch with Gbenga and some other classmates but assumed they were all doing great. And no, he was not into drugs or any other vice as reported by the news.

Not until April last year when I saw a picture of Soji on the page of a popular daily. And this wasn’t for a scholarship, award or any memorable recognition. He hung himself in his off-school apartment in the final semester of his engineering course with a good grade, and had left a suicide note of which the term depression was highlighted.

And there are so many Africans like Soji, who are physically and socially okay, but psychologically unbalanced and withdrawn. You also read about them in the dailies from time to time.

As defined by the Oxford dictionary, it is “A mental condition characterized by feelings of severe despondency and dejection, typically also with feelings of inadequacy and guilt, often accompanied by lack of energy and disturbance of appetite and sleep.”

There are several factors that lead to this which could be;

  • Abuse; Past physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.
  • Certain medications can increase your risk of depression.
  • Conflict or dispute with family members or friends.
  • Death/loss of a loved one
  • Genetics; A family history of depression may increase the risk. It’s thought that depression is passed genetically from one generation to the next. The exact way this happens, though, is not known.
  • Major Events; Even good events such as starting a new job, graduating, or getting married can lead to depression. It could also be, things not going according to your mapped out plan, losing a job or income, getting divorced, stagnancy or retiring.
  • Personal problems; Problems such as social isolation due to other mental illnesses or being cast out of a family or social group can lead to depression.
  • A serious ailment; Sometimes depression co-exists with a major illness or is a reaction to the illness.
  • Substance abuse; Nearly 30% of people with substance abuse problems also have major or clinical depression.

Some symptoms could be, bu not limited to;

 

  • Lack of sleep or excessive sleeping
  • Being easily irritated
  • Loss of interest in activities that used to be enjoyable
  • Hopelessness
  • Appetite or weight changes
  • Persistent thoughts of something bad happening
  • Thoughts of death or suicide or suicide attempts
  • In very severe cases, psychotic symptoms (such as hallucinations or delusions)
  • Inability to take care of oneself, such as eating, bathing, or fulfilling family or work responsibilities

Some ways by which depression can be avoided are;

  1. See a Doctor; This is the first and most preferred option, as there are trained therapist who would work you through and nurse your mind from its unhealthy state to wellness. They would also prescribe anti-depressants which could be helpful.
  2. Exercise regularly;  Exercise can increase your body’s production of endorphins, which are hormones that improve your mood. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise three times a week.
  3. Build strong relationships; At points like these, the relationships we have built or build by opening up to someone about it, goes a long way to lightening the burden and relieving your mind through constant checks.
  4. Reduce stress; Stress is a major factor that causes it, so try as much as possible to reduce activities or routines that stress you out consistently.
  5. Eat well, sleep well; This simply means taking good and proper care of yourself. Get quality sleep (at least 7 hours daily) and a proper balanced diet in the right portions would help maintain your overall body metabolism. Avoid toxic people/environments as well.
  6. Reduce alcohol and drug usage; While this might seem useful initially, in the long run they only postpone the awful feelings and make you feel twice worse than you initially were.

Save someone out there today.

I hope this article was helpful to you. Do let me know your feedback in the comment section below. 🙂