By Ngozi Ushedo
With additional information from online sources.
Mental health problems appear to be on the increase in our society and many people are indirectly affected by this disorder, especially depression experienced by a loved one.
The positive dimension of mental health is stressed in WHO’s definition of health as contained in its constitution.
Concepts of mental health include subjective well-being, perceived self efficacy, autonomy, competence, intergenerational dependence and recognition of the ability to realize one’s intellectual and emotional potential.
Mental health should be a concern for all of us, rather than only for those who suffer from the disorder.
Fighting mental disorders such as depression and anxiety imposes a huge burden in our communities.
Given the prevalence of mental health and substance-dependence problems in adults and children, the emotional but also financial burden on individuals, their families and society is enormous.
The economic impacts of mental illness include its effects on personal income, the ability of the persons with mental disorders or their caregivers to work and make productive contributions to the national economy, as well as the utilization of treatment and support services.
Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest.
This is also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and it can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems.
For example, you may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes you may feel as if life is not worth living. For many people with depression, symptoms usually are severe enough to cause noticeable problems in day-to-day activities such as work, school, social activities or relationships with others.
Some people may feel generally miserable or unhappy without really knowing why. It varies from person to person but there are some common signs and symptoms.
It is important to remember that these symptoms can be part of life’s normal lows but the more symptoms you have, the stronger they are, and the longer they have lasted, the more likely it is that you are dealing with depression.
Depression is a major risk factor for suicide. The deep despair and hopelessness that goes along with depression can make suicide feel like the only way to escape the pain.
Symptoms may include; feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness, angry outbursts, irritability or frustration even over small matters, loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports, sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much, tiredness and lack of energy.
Other symptoms are reduced appetite and weight loss or increase, red cravings for food and weight gain, anxiety, agitation or restlessness.
Increased attention given to mental disorders and capacity building for major stakeholders in the health sector, particularly primary care physicians, will help doctors uncover more cases of depression thereby allowing for early intervention. In recent years, there have been concerted efforts to have general practitioners play key roles in its diagnosis and management.
Even though there are still very few professionals that are skilled to treat people with depression. While acting as a concerned friend or family member, our actions may be critical in helping your loved ones get help.
However, it is important to approach them in the right way; being gentle, but persistent in encouraging them to seek medical help and reminding them that depression is a legitimate illness that is serious but treatable and how their challenges can be overcome.
We cannot overemphasize the importance of mental wellbeing. We are calling on the government and stakeholders to support mental health programs by allocating adequate financial and human resources to address this growing concern.
We will work together to create more awareness on depression and its effect on our communities, as we continue to talk on health improvement priorities for our nation, Nigeria.
Attention should be given to depression.
Ms. Ushedo wrote in from Lagos and can be reached on ushedon@ yahoo.com