Some days, we just feel extremely low. Some call it sadness; some melancholy but really…it is more than sadness. Sadness is a normal reaction to situations; an emotion. Depression is a mental disorder, however there is a thin line between sadness and depression.

Depression is a state of mind that makes one feel constant sadness, emptiness or lack of interest in life. It is not caused solely by one event, however it gets triggered by major events. Sometimes, it doesn’t get triggered, it just happens.

It affects one’s overall performance. Words like “Get up!” “Smile!” “Be positive” among others, do not just work on depression.

Sometimes, it is serious in the case of clinical depression, which has to be treated medically.

Unfortunately, there are so many attached misconceptions and stigma attached to depression. It is not given its due concern.

Some people don’t even believe in depression.They see it as being lazy or sluggish.

In an overtly religious society like Nigeria, some term depression spiritual and apparently “born again” christians cannot get depressed. Only sinners who do not possess the holy spirit get depressed. That is a very wrong notion. Even good christians get depressed.

So many factors contribute to depression and at least three-fourth of people with depression have low self esteems. One’s upbringing also has a lot to do with this; the balance of nature and nurture. It could also be hereditary. Sudden changes in the environment could also cause depression.

Certain personalities also get easily depressed; the melancholy personality. They are the introspective people; introverts. They are not necessarily shy but they tend to bottle things up.

One sad part is that many teenagers get depressed but they cannot confide in their parents or caregivers. These young adults are afraid of their parents; reactions, or the fact that they wouldn’t take it seriously or believe them. The parents or caregivers may even have a role to play in the depression. This is not to apropriate blames to a party, but to shed light on some crucial things.

Repressing traumatic events or refusing to process emotions like grief and sadness, result in depression. It is like pumping air into a tyre continuously without letting any out. It gets saturated, and just a single blow might make the tyre explode in one’s face.

Depression works that way too. Going through so many extremely stressful situations without allowing space and time to process and feel these emotions. It might seem like strength until a trigger event which causes depression.

In a patriarchal world like ours, men are dealt the harder blow of depression. Since they are not given the right platform to speak out or seek treatment without being seen as emasculated, many of them either die in silence, or resort to aggressive behaviours to deal with depression.

Depression is a major factor responsible for suicide. Most depressed people are suicidal. Some depressed people are experts at masking their emotional and mentyal states.

However, closed friends and loved ones would notice some signs like irritability, lack of enthusiasm to life. The depressed would likely not find pleasure in hobbies or activities they love.

A major misconception is that people who seem to have it all, cannot get depressed. Almost nobody is immune to depression. It has to do with the emotional and mental state of health.

Psychotherapy, unfortunately, is frowned upon in a society like ours. The belief is that only mad people need therapy. Another sad part is that so many people are struggling with some sort of trauma but do not seek help because they do not even believe that they have a problem in the first instance.

A lot has to be done to be able to curb depression, or at least reduce the rate of untreated or undiagnosed cases.

Parents and guardians should encourage a cordial relationship and friendship so their wards or children can find it easy to confide in them, experiences they are going through like bullying or emotional instability.

Awareness should be created and active steps taken to shed light on mental health issues. The people should be enlightened and myths and stigma associated with depression, debunked and broken.

The government should work on this by creating programmes that educate the masses. Mental health awareness should also be inculcated into the school curriculum in all levels.

Non-governmental organizations should also make it a priority to talk about depression and take active steps. This is because creating awareness without taking active steps is almost ineffective.

The people should also be encouraged to take monthly mental evaluation, especially university students as it seems depression and suicide is a norm among tertiary students.

Mental health is as important as physical health, if not more important because the mental health affects the physical, which is why many patients who are not mentally healthy, find it hard to recover from physical illnesses or injuries than their mentally healthy counterparts. The state of mind controls the physical.


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