According to college of medicine, University of Ibadan Nigeria, about 1.5 Million cases of depression are recorded per year in Nigeria alone. Globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that about 300million people suffer from depression. That’s about 5% of the world population.
Recently, many stars like talk-show host Ellen De Generes, Kanye West, Pirates of the Caribbean actor Johny Depp, Eminem, Airforce One actor Harrison Ford, Award winning writer Chimamanda Adichie,Tonto Dikeh, Toke Makinwa, beauty queen Nike Osinowo, to mention but a few, have all opened up about their struggles with depression.
Depression is a mood disorder characterized by loss of interest in activities or persistent low mood, which negatively affects one’s daily life. How you feel, how you think, how you act, etc.
Judging from this ‘mere‘ definition, one would wonder why most people who supposedly have it all, whom others look up to as role models, would be struggling with depression seeing that they seem to have life put together.
You see, depression knows no class nor race. It can affect anybody no matter the social status. It is nothing to feel ashamed of, if you struggle with one. It doesn’t have a ‘good’ reason why it should affect anyone. It is more than just being sad or ‘feeling down‘. When one is depressed, there are changes in the brain chemistry caused by stress, loss/grief, changes in hormones, genetics, or certain medical conditions. Fortunately, depression can be treated. Most times when left untreated, it could lead to suicide.
CAUSES OF DEPRESSION
Depression is an extremely complex illness. People get depressed for various reasons, Some of which are:
1 Serious illnesses: There are certain illnesses that could lead to depression. It is often a reaction to a serious illness. For e.g. If one is diagnosed with a serious illness and is battling with it, the person may become depressed as a reaction to that illness. Sometimes some illnesses co-exist with depression.
2 Major life–changing events: such as loss of job, loss of a loved one, death/grief, divorce, or retirement. Sometimes starting a new job, (which may be too demanding), having a baby, may also lead to depression.
3 Conflicts: disputes with friends or family can cause one to isolate or withdraw from socializing with others which could lead to depression. Also, Internal conflicts arising from the feeling of not ‘measuring up‘ to expectations can attack one’s self-esteem causing withdrawal from social groups which also increases the risk of depression.
Sexual, physical or emotional abuse often causes depression too.
4 Abuse of substances: Many people who abuse substances are known to have depression. There are also certain medications used to treat other ailments( Like high blood
Pressure) that are known to also increase the risk of depression.
5 Genetics: Although the way this happens exactly is not known, it is believed that depression can be passed from generations to generations. And so, a family with a history of depression could have some members, suffering from the ailment too.
Depression can be severe, mild, temporal or persistent. The good news is, with medication and/or therapy, one can get his/her life back again! It is advised to get treatment from a qualified medical professional once illness has been diagnosed.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF DEPRESSION/ TREATMENTS.
There are about 9 types of depression, but for the purpose of this post, I’m going to talk only about 7.
Here they are;
1 BIPOLAR DISORDER: Probably one of the common types, formerly known as manic depressive disorder. Symptoms include, high energy, excitement, racing thoughts, and poor judgements. It alternates between periods of extreme lows followed by periods of extreme highs. People with this type of depression can commonly be treated with medications called “mood stabilizers”.
2 Psychotic depression: This is characterized by delusions and hallucinations. Seeing and hearing “things” which may not be real. People with this type of depression have disorganized thinking and false beliefs. They may not speak nor leave their beds for days, maybe weeks! Treatment is usually with anti-depressant and anti-psychotic medications.
3 Seasonal affective disorder: Like the name implies, this often occurs seasonally. They’re known to occur in winter climates. Most people who suffer from this type of depression hibernate during winter. They withdraw socially during this period. Cause of this has been linked to lack of natural sunlight during the winter which makes some people more sensitive to this reduction in light. S.A.D is characterized by anxiety, irritability, weight gain, and daytime fatigue. Treatment is usually with light therapy or artificial light treatment.
4 Major depression: Probably the most common type, characterized by hopelessness, loss of interest in pleasurable activities, sadness, feelings of guilt, lack of concentration, physical pain, irritability, lack of energy, changes in eating/sleeping habits, thoughts of suicide, etc. This type of depression tends to recur throughout a person’s life. Treatment is usually with medications and counseling (talk therapy). About 80-90% of people who suffer from this type of depression, respond very well to treatment.
5 Post–partum depression: Also known as ‘ baby blues’. It is a type of sadness which occurs following the birth of a new born. About 85% of new mums have attested to experiencing this after childbirth although upto 16% say it’s serious enough to be diagnosed as depression. Symptoms include anxiety, fatigue, loneliness, extreme sadness, fears about hurting the baby, (or not doing enough for the baby), feelings of disconnect from the newborn, and suicidal thoughts. Many women go through a depressive state after childbirth ranging from weeks to months later. Treatment is usually by counseling or a combination of both counseling and drugs.
6 ATYPICAL DEPRESSION: Thought to be unusual but in fact, one of the most common type of depression often under diagnosed. A common sign of this type of depression is a sense of heaviness in arms and legs like paralysis. Other studies found that overeating/oversleeping are two major symptoms. Other features include weight gain, irritability, being overly sensitive to interpersonal rejection, low mood reactivity (feeling better when something good happens). They’re thought to often have relationship problems. Treatment is usually by talk therapy.
7 SITUATIONAL DEPRESSION: Also called adjustment disorder, is often triggered by a life-changing event such as loss of job, bad break-up, death of a loved one or trauma. It is three times more common than major depression. Symptoms tend to clear up once the ‘situation’ clears up and often does not require treatment. However, its symptoms including extreme sadness, nervousness, worry,( if they don’t clear up) could be a warning sign of major depression.
The other two types of depression are premenstrual dysphoric disorder and dysthymia. PDD is characterized by a feeling of depression (irritability, tension) before menstruation, while dysthymia also known as persistent depressive disorder like the name implies, is long-term and recurring. Treatment is by psychotherapy and/or drugs.
HOW CAN YOU HELP SOMEONE WHO’S DEPRESSED?
1 Love unconditionally.
2 Show empathy.
3 Be there.
4 Offer any help with treatments.
5 Educate yourself so as to understand the illness and know how to relate better.
6 Take care of yourself.
Depression is real!!! It isn’t about being just ‘sad‘. Sadness is something everyone experiences as a normal reaction to difficult times in life which often passes. Everyone has bad days and it’s perfectly normal to feel low when unpleasant things occur. But when a person is depressed, it’s not what you can ‘snap out‘ of. It takes a long period of time which gradually begins to affect your daily life. It is a real illness which thankfully is treatable.
TIPS TO HELP YOU IF /WHEN YOU FEEL LOW:
1 Be social/ laugh: Even if you’re not in the mood, go out there and socialize. Sometimes being around people and talking about other things helps improve one’s mood.
2 Don’t overthink things: This may be hard to do but it is best for you. Ruminating and over analyzing things makes you feel worse, so turn off your brain just for that moment.
3 Get enough sleep/Relax: Sleep is known to alleviate stress and helps the body rejuvenate. It helps for better concentration and optimal function. Take out time to relax/sleep for upto 7 and half to 9 hours everyday.
4 Exercise: Maybe brisk-walking, or any type of exercise that energizes you and helps you feel more relaxed. Get involved in other activities which excites you.
For more on how to boost your mood, read: 9 Little known ways to boost your mood in 2mins or less.
Always remember; (QUOTES)
“You are capable of amazing things”.
“You don’t have to be perfect to be amazing”
“Once you choose hope, anything is possible”.
I’d love to hear your contributions or thoughts! If you have stories about depression, you’re welcome to share.
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See you soon.
Ps: This post is for information and support only. It is not a substitute for professional advice.