Depression is an illness that is quite common yet poorly understood worldwide.
In this part of the world, our vocabulary appears to always fall short in describing morbid psychological experiences. This tends to distract us from the core problems in mental illnesses like depression. The word “depression” in most Nigerian languages seem to suggest sadness; the opposite of happiness. However, the mental illness of depression is much more than the usual sadness or not feeling happy as a result of an unpleasant or untoward circumstance. Although it is possible for negative experiences to trigger off a depressive episode, the resulting experience of feeling sad is more intense, prolonged and incapacitating than the trigger. Most depressed persons never get to even establish a direct link between the specific trigger and factor that served as the catalyst(s) for the depressive episode. It will almost always require experienced mental health professionals to establish the link.
Commonly, we see people who are basically depressed and are simply looking for a reason for their depression. They look back into their past and begin to feel guilty about trivial things. They analyze their present status and feel worthless about their situation. If that is not enough, they look into the future and feel hopeless about the future. It is really not their fault! This hopelessness might be so intense that they stop seeing any reason to continue living. They are simply trying to reason out their feelings. Depressed persons also experience a low level of energy that doesn’t go away despite their resting. The more they rest, the more the heaviness and feelings of tiredness. These tend to be worse in the morning and might improve as the day goes by. They commonly lose interest in activities that they previously enjoyed doing. The feeling of pleasure that comes from activities like relating with others, conversations, general entertainment, intimacy, eating and doing fun-filled activities seems non-existent. These further make them withdrawn and distant from others which don’t help matters.
Depression is never the fault of its sufferer. It has nothing to do with how rich, how poor, how ugly or how beautiful you are. Anybody who has a brain and is human has the potential of having a depressive illness. Some people are only more likely to have it than others. Having one or more relatives increases the likelihood of having a depressive illness. How close the relative is will also determine how strong the likelihood will be. Other factors that tend to increase the likelihood of having a depressive illness include; experiencing adverse life events (in the past or present), suffering from chronic physical illnesses or having a previous episode of depression or any other mental illness.
Overcoming a depressive illness is possible.
The ease of coming out of a depressive episode depends on the severity of the depressive episode. Some depressed individuals will benefit from initial intensive care within a hospital setting while others will benefit from only psychotherapy. Above all, psychotherapy is almost always a constant factor in managing depression. The goal is always to use medications only when necessary and allow the depressed individual to develop an inner strength to be able to independently regain previously lost control of self-efficacy.
If you think you might be depressed, some practical steps that aid stepping out of the cloud of depression include:
• Take one day at a time
• Plan your schedule for the day and set reminders (have a schedule for self-care including, brushing your teeth, having a bath, eating, exercise, sleeping and other activities of daily living)
• Avoid staying alone for too long. Stay with family and friends who understand and care about you.
• Talk to someone about it. It is better to speak with a doctor who will link you up with a mental health professional if the need arises.
Stay safe and sane; help others do the same!!