• Definition of depression
• Statistics on Depression
• Signs of Depressive episodes
• Steps to take when signs are noticed
Definition of Depression
Depression is an illness /disorder that involves the body, mood and thought that affect the way a person eats, sleep, feels about himself/herself and thinks about things. Depression is different from usual mood fluctuations and short-lived emotional responses to challenges in everyday life. The affected individual will function poorly at work, school or/ and the family and could lead to suicide. Depression is a common mental disorder.
Statistics on Depression
Globally, it is estimated that 3.8% of the world population (approximately 280 million people) are affected including 5.0% among adults and 5.7% among adults more than 60 years. In Nigeria, depression is a significant public health problem with a lifetime estimate of about 3.9%. Studies conducted in Nigeria have reported the prevalence of depression among young adults, elderly and internally displaced persons to be 25%, 26%and 17% respectively.
Signs of Depressive episodes
• Depressed mood (described as persistent feelings of sadness, irritable or empty)
• Loss of pleasure or interest in previously pleasurable activities.
• Feeling tired or low in energy.
• Poor concentration.
• Feelings of excessive guilt or low self-worth.
• Disrupted sleep.
• Change in appetite or weight.
• Hopelessness about the future.
• Thoughts about dying /suicide.
Steps to take when signs are noticed
1. Seek help with a mental health professional.
Mental health professionals include the Psychiatrist, Psychiatric nurses, Psychologists, social workers and Occupational therapists. During the treatment, medications such as anti-depressants may be prescribed and Psychotherapy done depending on the diagnosis and severity.
2. Reducing stress through meditation, relaxation, training or exercises.
3. Improving self-esteem through positive self-affirmations.
4. Socializing with others.
5. Eating a balanced diet.
6. Engaging in activities that the person enjoys previously or attempting to identify new activities they may be interested in.
Q: Does just having one of the listed symptoms mean that the person is depressed?
A: No. At least 3 or more is usually needed for a person to be depressed, but the presence of any one should make one try to look out for the others which may later be found to be present
Q: Could you elaborate more on the positive self-affirmation with examples?
A: Positive self-affirmation involves mainly making positive confessions about current situations. This has a positive effect on the mind and thought and subsequently behavior. This can be done with the help of the clinical psychologists.
Q: What are the predisposing factors, precipitating factors and perpetuating factors for depression that the audience should look out for?
A: Predisposing factors act early on in Life and includes; physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect during childhood. Precipitating factors include stressors that triggered the current episode of depression and include loss of mother, loss of job, marital stressors e.t.c.Perpetuating factors are factors that maintain the depressive state and include lack of insight into the condition, and not seeking early treatment.
Q: Could family history of depression be an important factor especially in children?
A: Yes. Depression is genetic. It is an important factor. Depression in the mother is an important factor to look out for if found in children or adolescent
It's good to note that in children, the presenting symptoms could vary. In children, the mood could be irritable and parents or relatives will observe that they snap or get angry easily. There could also be reduced energy and activity, poor sleep or increased sleep, poor appetite or increased appetite. They can also have suicidal thoughts present especially in adolescents.
It should also be noted that the typical depressed mood seen in adults and irritable mood seen in children are not typical with the older population. The elderly, mostly present with agitation.