Depression is not just a Nigerian health problem. It is a common illness worldwide, with more than 300 million people affected. Depression has been cited as a global health problem that occupies an eminent position in both clinical and community mental health. And at the global level, socio-medical challenges increase as the prevalence of depression increases, especially in resource-constrained countries like ours.
Depression is different from the usual mood fluctuations and short-lived emotional responses to challenges in everyday life. Especially when long-lasting and with moderate or severe intensity, depression may become a serious health condition. It can cause the affected person to suffer greatly and function poorly at work, at school, or in the family. At its worst, depression can lead to suicide – lose to 15 000 people die due to suicide every year.
Although there are known, effective treatments for depression, fewer than half of those affected in the world (in many countries, fewer than 10%) receive such treatments. Barriers to effective care include a lack of resources, lack of trained health-care providers, and social stigma associated with mental disorders.
As a global problem, the burden of depression varies considerably depending on where a person lives, but an increase of more than 18% has been reported between 2005 and 2015 with the WHO leading a 1-year global campaign on depression. On 10 October 2012, during the World Mental Health Day, the WHO and World Federation of Mental Health described depression as a global health crisis. The goal of the campaign on depression is so that there are more people with depression everywhere in the world and those with depressive illness should seek and get help.
In Nigeria, institutions, NGOs and government agencies put money into awareness campaigns but have not paid enough attention to cyberbullying that is prevalent in our society. Most persons who have contemplated suicide in these parts are persons who have been barged online either for something they did or did not do.
They have been shamed for their lack of achievements, their struggling careers, and the likes. Individuals from the comforts of their homes, throw hurtful words around and trigger depressive tendencies. The worst is when these persons speak up about things that plague them or about the voices in their heads, you begin to hear things like, “no be only you suffer pass”, “the suffering na everywhere” or “if you see wetin other people dey go through, you go know say your own better pass”.
There is no sympathy anywhere because Nigerians believe that the only cause of depression is the bad economy of the country. There is information everywhere on the internet about a kind of depression called Clinical Depression, but it is often decked in the back burners.
So, this article is an expose on what clinical depression is. This is an attempt to highlight the possible causes and cite preventive measures. The mental illness, clinical depression, account for most of the suicides committed in Nigeria in the past five years.
(Symptoms of) Clinical Depression
Clinical depression is the more severe form of depression, also known as major depression or major depressive disorder. It isn’t the same as depression caused by a loss, such as the death of a loved one, or a medical condition, such as a thyroid disorder.
A constant sense of hopelessness and despair is a sign you may have clinical depression. With clinical depression, it may be difficult to work, study, sleep, eat, and enjoy friends and activities. Some people have clinical depression only once in their life, while others have it several times in a lifetime.
Read also: How To Help A Guy Going Through Depression
Major depression affects a small percentage of persons over the age of 18. Overall, between 20% and 25% of adults may suffer an episode of major depression at some point during their lifetime. It also affects older adults, teens, and children, but frequently goes undiagnosed and untreated in these populations.
Prevention programs have been shown to reduce clinical depression. Effective community approaches to prevent depression include school-based programs to enhance a pattern of positive thinking in children and adolescents. Interventions for parents of children with behavioral problems may reduce parental depressive symptoms and improve outcomes for their children. Exercise programs for the elderly can also be effective in depression prevention.
Diagnosis and treatment
There are effective treatments for moderate and severe depression. Health-care providers may offer psychological treatments (such as behavioral activation, cognitive behavioral therapy [CBT], and interpersonal psychotherapy [IPT]) or antidepressant medication.
What healthcare providers should keep in mind, however, is the possible adverse effects associated with antidepressant medication.
Different psychological treatment formats for consideration include individual and/or group face-to-face psychological treatments delivered by professionals and supervised lay therapists.
Psycho-social treatments are also effective for mild depression. Antidepressants can be an effective form of treatment for moderate-severe depression but are not the first line of treatment for cases of mild depression. They should not be used for treating depression in children and are not the first.
The burden of depression and other mental health conditions is on the rise globally. A World Health Assembly resolution passed in May 2013 has called for a comprehensive, coordinated response to mental disorders at the country level. Nigeria cannot be left out as we are beginning to lose productive and innovative minds to the burden.