Depression is a Psychological (Mental Health) disorder characterized by;
1. Depressed Mood
2. Negative Thinking
3. Loss of Interest in pleasurable activities
4. Slowness in activities
5. Reduced Energy
Everyone goes through periods of sadness and excitement occasioned by situations, or environmental factors. It is normal for one to feel down or low when expectations are not met or, there are preponderant of negative life’s events.
In the cases of normal changes in mood, people usually get over them in a matter of hours or days. However, Depression becomes a problem when the symptoms lasts for weeks, over three weeks or more and affects the normal day-to-day activities of the individual. In some cases depression co-exist with anxiety disorders.
Depression as a syndrome could be categorized as mild, moderate and severe depression. The level of severity determines the treatment modalities given to a patient.
Depression could affect all ages (Child & Adolescent, Adult, and Elderly people). The prevalence rate differs, depending on the age group.
Signs And Symptoms Of Depression
The signs and symptoms of depression are as follows;
1. Anhedonial: Loss of interest in pleasurable activities. In this case, patient looses interest on activities he/she previously enjoyed.
2. Anorexia: Loss of appetite
3. Anergia : Lack of energy
4. Insomnia: Poor sleep, early morning wakening or inability to fall asleep on time.
5. Suicidal Ideation, or wishing to die.
6. Feeling of worthlessness
8. Guilt feeling; some patients tend to ask for forgiveness, confessing what they are truly innocent of, and never did. This is common in elderly people who usually confess witchcraft and might end up being killed.
9. Low Libido: In some cases, this can cause marital disharmony where the other partner does not understand what his/her spouse is going through.
10. Negative Thoughts
11. Dreaming of dead people
12. Poor concentration at work
13. Poor decision making ability
14. Memory Loss
15. Weeping Spell
16. Easily Irritated
17. Easily gets agitated
18. Monosyllabic speeches
Causes Of Depression /Risk Factors
Several factors have been implicated in the etiology of depression,
1. Biological Factors :
(3) Hormonal Changes
(6) Abuse of recreational drugs
(7) Postpartum /Pregnancy induced depression
2. Psycho-Social Factors:
(4) Separation (either by death)
(5) Loss of means of livelihood
(6) Natural Disaster (flood, earthquake, tornados, wars, windfall)
(7) Manmade Disaster (Terrorism e.g., Boko Haram, wars)
(8) Overwhelming stress at work.
(9) Loss of Loved one(s).
(10) Sexual Abuse
(13) Armed Robbery
(14) Human Trafficking
Genetics: Some depressive disorders could actually be hereditary in nature. That is, it could be passed from one generation to another.
Traumatic: This could be head injury from accidents, and from physical abuse.
Infections: Chronic Infections like HIV, Hepatitis, STDs, could dispose one to having depression. Patients suffers from other chronic illnesses like Sickle Cell Anemia, Diabetes, Hypertension, Congestive Cardiac Heart Failure, Dementia, Stroke, Parkinson’s disease, has a high probability of coming down with depressive disorders.
Natural Disaster: This includes Earthquake, Flood, Erosion, Tornados. These are factors that could affect certain individuals adversely and could lead to depressive disorders among those with high vulnerability index.
Overwhelming Stress at Work: Too much work load, lack of good relationship with colleagues and boss.
Types Of Depresssion
Depression could be classified based on the followings
3. Based on course
Based on Aetiology
Endogenous: Factors within the individual
Reactive: Due to environmental or situational factors.
1. Melancholic depression
2. Somatic depression
3. Psychotic depression
Based on Course
1. Unipolar: This involves only depression
2. Bipolar: This includes cases of elation and period of depression.
Depression is a treatable disorder depending on an identified causative factors .The followings are the treatment modalities found to be highly effective .
1. Psychotherapy (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)
2. Pharmacotherapy(drug treatment and use of drugs)
3. Environmental manipulations
4. Effective family support
Conclusion; Depression is a major cause of mortality and morbidity globally. For example, in Nigeria, there has been an increase in spate of completed suicide and suicide attempt due to economic downturn the country is going through. It is important to know that depression is under-diagnosed in our society and because of the stigma or fear of being labeled ‘mental patient,’ many people tend to keep away from the professionals trained to manage them.
World Health Organization (WHO), recognizing the contributions on the diseases burden by depression declares this year’s theme as “Let’s Talk Depression”.
Depression is a treatable disorder when and if help is sort on time in the appropriate treatment centers. Early intervention or early onset of treatment could make a lot of differences but unfortunately, people tend to patronize non- professionals (faith based institutions, traditional healers) where they must have spent so much fortunes and end up with more complicating issues before seeking help from the mental health professionals .
There is a need to intensify wholistic prevention strategies in order to reduce the incidence rate of depression in our society. These strategies include; Psycho-education on family and work place stress management, good governance, genuine fight against corruption, enthronement of fairness and justice among all strata of the society.