Depression and suicides prevention can be achieved by adhering to simple lifestyle changes. Depression affects people of all race ,age,ethnicity and /or religion.
It is normal for people that are going through a rough patch to be sad. Sometimes people that are grieving or going through a loss should be allowed to cry it all out or pour out their soul. It is healing. Life would lose its essence and people would not be motivated without life’s problems.
This grieving or moodiness precipitated by life’s problems should not be confused with depression. Moodiness from problems associated with living on planet Earth heals with time while depression creates an intense feeling of hopelessness,guilt and low self-esteem.
Depression is to moodiness as a hurricane is to a whirlwind.
Depression is a mood disorder characterized by feelings of sadness,hopelessness,anger,low self-esteem and anger in such a way that everyday activities is affected.
Depression is an equal opportunity disorder. It doesn’t spare anyone on account of race,religion,sex or nation of origin.
Females are twice as more likely to be depressed than males.
Depression is an old illness. King Saul in the Bible book of Samuel had depression and was usually relieved by young David’s music therapy. His depression which was ascribed to an ‘evil spirit’ got worse following the loss of his sons and an impending defeat in battle. The Israeli king asked his manservant to relieve him of his anguish by killing him. The servant refused and the King did what most people with poorly managed severe depression does. He committed suicide. Hannah in the same Bible book also because of her inability to conceive a child suffered severe depression. She was of poor spirit,ate poorly and was always crying. Her mood improved greatly after a holy man assured her that God would grant her a child. Abraham Lincoln,Earnest Hemingsway,Princess Diana are examples of public figures that suffered depression.
CAUSES OF DEPRESSION
There is no generally agreed cause of depression. Imbalances in brain chemicals has been suggested to be a cause of depression by some experts. Heredity and the environment according to the fertile ground theory,collude to cause depression.
Depression run in some families. Children of depressed parents have a greater chance of coming down with this mood disorder than children of non-depressed parents. Ernest Hemingway, author of the book ‘For whom the bell tolls’ had depression,his father had depression,his granddaughters, Margaux and the elder sister all had depression. And like King saw they almost all committed suicide.
Abuse,poverty, recent life stresses, loss of loved ones, loss of jobs, relationship problems are some of the environmental factors that may cause depression.
Some medications appears to cause depression. Any inexplicable feeling of sadness after starting a new medication should be reported immediately to the Doctor. These drugs that may worsen or cause depression are blood pressure lowering drugs called beta blockers(Atenolol, bisoprolol, Propranolol),drugs for anxiety and insomnia(diazepams, lexotan,swinol),Some birth control pills etc.
Some diseases that affect the nervous system are also capable of causing depression.They include; Diabetes, asthma, AIDS,stroke,hepatitis etc.
Depression and Suicides
Depression is the leading cause of suicide and disability worldwide,according to the World Health Organization.
Nigeria is both the depression and suicide capital of Africa. Poverty, terrorism,bad government policies and outdated mental health laws are some of the reasons Nigerians are on daily basis jumping into the Lagos lagoon or drinking ‘Sniper’ ,a popular rat poison in this part of the world. The Sniper insecticide produced for the good reasons of controlling both household and agricultural pests is about to be banned by that country’s drug regulatory body,NAFDAC.
Worldwide, delusions and psychoses associated with depression are some of the reasons people are extracting themselves from the gene pool. They just want to end it all.
Warning Signs of Suicide
Talking about suicide and wanting to do it,putting one’s affair in order,giving out one’s property and saying goodbye,aggressive behaviour to others or oneself,talking about the worthlessness and vanity of living,posting about death and suicide notes on social media.
Help by friends, families and the public should immediately be extended to anybody expressing the suicidal signs above.
TYPES OF DEPRESSION
We shall be talking about six types of depression as defined by the American Psychiatric Association.
1.MAJOR DEPRESSIVE DISORDER
This is characterized by low moods and general loss of interests in pleasurable activities that lasts at least two weeks. The other symptoms are extreme fatigue,changes in sleep pattern,thoughts of suicide,feelings of guilt,inability to concentrate,very low self-esteem,increased or decreased appetite and or/ weight,changes in sleep pattern.
Psychosis is another symptom of major depressive disorder. The patient here is out of touch with reality,hear voices and see things that are not actually there. They are paranoid which makes them to distrust and be suspicious of others making them to think that people are out to harm or poison them.
They can also be delusional which makes sufferers to think they can communicate with inanimate objects.
Less severe but more chronic than Major depressive disorder. The symptoms lasts for at least two years. In addition to a depressed mood a person needs to display two of the under-listed symptoms to fall into this class. The symptoms include:Low self esteem,thoughts of death or suicide,poor concentration,guilty feelings,Problems making decisions.
It mostly affects children,teenagers and young adults and if left untreated can develop into major depressive disorder.
Adjustment disorder refers to reactions to life problems (such as marital issues,job loss,troublesome co-workers, financial setbacks or natural disasters) that decreases our ability to work or participate effectively with others in addition to low mood,crying spells and feelings of hopelessness.
It is characterised by extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression).
When depressed the person feels sad or hopeless and loses interest in most activities.
When the mood shifts to mania the person will be full of energy and euphoric(feelings of extreme wellbeing like somebody on codeine or cocaine) or unusually irritable.
During the manic phase of bipolar disorder the high feelings may spin out of control. With good judgment going out the window people who have this disorder often gamble excessively,spend too much money,engage in risky sexual escapades,talk fast and furiously,make foolish business decisions and think they have super-special talents or abilities.
5.SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER
Also known as Dark depression. This is the type of depression that comes and go with the seasons. It is characterized by unusual symptoms like increased appetite,carbohydrate cravings,increased sleep,irritability,a sense of heaviness in the arms and legs.
6.PREMENSTRUAL DYSPHORIC DISORDER AND POST-PARTUM DEPRESSION.
PDD refers to a mood disorder that precedes menstruation . It has been attributed to changing hormones.
The symptoms include: anger,anxiety,bloating,fatigue,irritability,sadness,guilt, self-blame, tearfulness and withdrawal.
Postpartum depression also known as the “baby blues” refers to the extreme feeling of sadness and hopelessness experienced by some women after giving birth.It is sometimes accompany by psychoses. Psychoses is characterised by hallucinations(hearing or seeing things that are not really there),and delusional beliefs. Most depressed mothers would psychotically believe that their new born babies are evil or better off in heaven than living here on earth. This explains why some depressed mothers hates their new babies. This is also the reason some depressed and troubled-in-mind mothers are killing their defenceless babies after birth.
HOW TO COMBAT DEPRESSION
Regular exercise is good for both physical and mental health. Chemicals that boost the mood like endorphins are released during exercise. The body temperature is also raised to provide a calming effect during and after exercise. Exercising helps prevent bad chemicals that worsens depression from being formed in the body.
2.Cut down on social media activities
Social media if not controlled can be addicting. It leads to low self-esteem and cuts addicted users away from reality. More time should be spent with friends and families.
We should learn to accept the things we can not change and not to overcommit to things. Time should be created for rest and leisure.
4.Avoid Toxic People
Learn to stay away from people who takes advantage of you, people who always remind you of how hopeless and worthless you or your undertaking is. Killjoys that are always eager to point out our failings should be avoided.
Eat more balanced diet,fruits and vegetables and less processed foods,carbonated drinks and sugar. Alcohol consumption should if possible be stopped. Smoking cessation should be encouraged.
6.Maintain a healthy weight
Being overweight and or/obese is a risk factor to many health disorders including depression. A healthy weight can be maintained by exercising regularly. By using the stairs instead of the lift. Brisk walking and gardening activities are all encouraged when trying to maintain a healthy weight.
7.Get enough sleep
People who do not get enough sleep are more likely to be depressed than people who gets enough quality sleep. Quality sleep can be achieved by not taking caffeine after noon. The bedroom should only be used for sleeping or love making.
8.Manage chronic conditions
Drugs for diabetes,hypertension and other conditions that may cause depression when not managed properly should be used exactly as prescribed by the Doctor.
9. Use Depression drugs as prescribed.
Depression is treatable and affects people everywhere. The drugs for depression should be used as prescribed and all side effects should be documented and reported to the physician.
10.Cognitive Behavioural therapy(CBT)
CBT is a talking therapy provided by experts in the field of depression. People are talk how to identify and destroy disturbing thoughts that may make their conditions worse.