Depression!!! The first thing that comes to my mind when I think about depression is a Christian song that goes “when I am down and my soul is weary….” Many people around us are suffering from depression that we know absolutely nothing about until we are told.
Depression is a very common health disorder and a serious medical condition that is characterized by a sudden or persistent depressed mood coupled with loss of interest in most things like normal daily activities. Depression was called a “white man’s sickness” when I was much younger. I have come to realize that the statement was borne out of ignorance and the Nigerian mentality of hiding the head in the sand and wishing for something to go away.
Recently, there have been lots of cases of people either trying to or committing suicide but sadly, not enough is being said about depression so I have decided to address the term “DEPRESSION.” It is like a perpetual feeling of emptiness, aloneness, helplessness and sadness. People that are depressed don’t really care about good and bad or what’s best for others; they just know that they are in pain and are desperate to end their pains. Most time, they mask their pains with a smile in a bid not to appear weak.
Depression has lots of symptoms which make it difficult to decipher when a person looks blue (depressed). Some of the symptoms include moodiness, anger, a feeling of being sad without knowing why, irregular sleep patterns, drastic change in appetite for food, sudden lack of desire to do normal every day activities, lack of productivity, having low self-esteem, frequent thought of death (suicidal thought), feeling of guilt, lack of energy, anxiety and so on. Causes of depression are numerous and different people are triggered by different things. Change in body hormones, substance abuse, stressful events, loss of loved ones are some of the causes.
I strongly believe that the average Nigerian is influenced the most by his family and religion. Sadly, this two institutions have chosen whether deliberately or not to ignore everything about depression. I can chalk off the family not talking about depression to ignorance but I can’t make the same excuse for religion. I will always speak for myself as a Christian and I can confidently say that I never heard anything about depression in Church this year. Depressed individuals have been failed by their families as a result of ignorance. If a person has been failed by his/her family, the church (religion) should be the next hope. Things will be a lot better and different if religious leaders harped on mental health the way they emphasize on other issues.
There are treatments and preventions for depression which can help improve the quality of life of a depressed individual. The treatments are:
Medication can greatly assist a depressed person. Some medications which will help include anti-anxiety, anti-depressant, anti-psychotic which must be prescribed by a medical personnel. Self-prescription is not advised as it has its potential risk as well as its benefits.
· Psychotherapy/ therapy
I advise therapy from a professional, family, close associate and from religion. A therapy session can help with the negative feelings; the person learns to develop skills to fight the negative feeling. As of now, I haven’t heard anything concerning religious therapy because religion has not started addressing the issue of depression. The sooner depression is looked into by religion/ religious bodies; the more lives it will save. People are suffering from depression with no one to confide in. I am appealing to various religious institutions to begin to make effort to address DEPRESSION as soon as possible.
· Light therapy
Light therapy should be carried out by a professional; it is simply exposing white light to the depressed individual it has been proven to help beat the symptoms of depression and balance one’s mood.
Preventive techniques for depression are much as it’s hard to recognize the actual cause which makes it difficult to prevent it; but it is best to observe the following lifestyle therapies:
ü Building strong relationships with people (a confidant).
ü Getting plenty of sleep and rest.
ü Reducing stress.
ü Maintaining treatment.
ü Regular exercise.
Certain supplements or lifestyle can reduce the effectiveness of medication and worsen depression. I did some research and spoke to a therapist and from my own discovery I suggest some do’s and don’ts to be observed by people suffering from depression.
· Avoiding alcohol and drugs
Taking drugs and alcohol can worsen the symptoms of depression. Initially, when these substances have been taken, it makes you feel better but it is only deceiving you. It will enhance the symptoms and make the potential risk very high.
The body secretes endorphin hormone which improves your mood, self-esteem and ward off the feeling of depression and anxiety. Regular exercise will increase the production of the endorphin hormone that will greatly help the depressed person by triggering a positive feeling that will gradually get rid of the pains.
· Taking care of yourself
Eating healthy diet, participating in enjoyable activities, getting plenty of sleep and rest, avoiding negative people improves the symptoms of depression. In rare cases, depression doesn’t respond to medications so, it is best to take care of yourself.
· Saying NO
Learn to say NO to avoid the feeling of being overwhelmed. Symptoms of depression and anxiety can worsen by an overwhelmed feeling. Saying NO when the need arises can help you feel better.
Dealing with depression is very difficult and trying for everyone involved. If you are depressed, know that it’s okay to not be okay. Know that you’re not the only one out there suffering from it. Do not let shame or pride stop you from reaching out to people who do care about you because even though you may think no one cares, there are a lots of people who do. Try as much as possible to reduce the stress you put yourself through if you think your depression is stress related and most importantly, see a professional for help. If your loved one is depressed, try as much as possible to be there for them while not suffocating them with your presence. Instead of creating a bond with a depressed person which you may break willingly or unwillingly, point that person to the direction of a professional. Do not in a bid to do good, end up doing more harm to the person.
A depressed person doesn’t want to see pity in your eyes. If a loved one opens up to you, he/she doesn’t need pity; it’s a support system the person wants. Try and be just that for them while treating them like everything is okay. Show the person unconditional love and try to convince him/her to go see a professional.
No matter what happens, if you find out you know someone who is depressed, try to show the person you’re there, if they need to talk, cry or vent, be their crutch. It will go a long way for the person emotionally even if they don’t admit it. Be a sibling, or simply a friend. Try to be nice to people you meet in your day to day activities. A kind word or smile can go a long way.