Depression: I AM FINE (HELP ME)
Over the weekend precisely on Sunday, I was hanging out with three of my friends who came visiting and as usual in our normal ladies gossips, we talked about so many things happening around and in the world. From latest entertainment gossips, to those who got wedded, wedding dresses, Politics, newly elected President of the United States of America, American elections, who is dating who, men, latest fashion, movies etc. At about 4 pm, we all decided to go see a recent Nigerian comedy movie.
I’d sat between Gimba and a lady who probably came to watch same movie, while our other two friends, Sandra and Moyo were at the far right on the same row after the lady. I decided to sit with Gimba because I’d noticed she’d been calmer and hardly contributed in our discussions even before we left for the cinema from my home.
I noticed I was doing all the laughing during a funny scene, while Gimba smiled occasionally and just stared at the screen. She was totally off. I jot it down to work related stress. After the movie however, Sandra and Moyo took a cab home while I decided to hitch a ride home with her. We however resumed our earlier discussion prior leaving for the cinema. I realized my friend was contributing halfheartedly not the usual boisterous and carefree way.
It was then it strucked me something was amiss with her. She was acting very uninterested, and just damping the fun and enthusiasm. At this moment, I knew it couldn’t be just work, relationship issue, or everyday wahala (Nigerian phrase for stress or problems) we go through.
I asked her what was wrong. She said nothing, just work. I looked at her and refused to say another word (which is unlike me- Miss know it all). She tried hiding the real problem but kept on rambling about work, economy, men, marriage etc.
I remember when I first noticed this sudden change of being sober with realities sometimes in May of 2016, She’d told me back then using the ever popular Nigerian phrase ‘’nothing dey happen’’, (meaning no cause for alarm). But after I got news that she‘d become suicidal and almost got killed when she rammed her car into a stationary mini-truck, I knew there was something more to her recent erratic behaviour.
Fortunately for her she was uninjured. The front of the car only got dented slightly with the headlights at the right side scattering. Her parents oblivious of her plight got the car fixed not knowing there was more to it.
‘’Brenda, I feel so hopeless and helpless and it’s like this is the end of me’’, she said.
”Thank goodness, someone is finally talking”, i thought within me.
Something in me knew she was depressed because all the signs of depression were written over her and I’d told her she was manifesting all symptoms of depression. After what seemed like an almost 30 minutes of discussion trying to know what must have caused it, she let the cat out of the bag.
‘’I can’t move on without Henry , I’ve tried to get him off my mind after the breakup’’, She continued.
‘’Wait, hold on, you mean your breakup with your boyfriend is what led to this’’? I asked
Gimba and Henry had dated for almost 3 years and everyone thought marriage would be next thing on the agenda- I included!
She probably thinks her life is in his hands and the breakup is something she is still battling to bear, accept and move on with her life even after almost half a year. We spoke about it for the remaining few minutes ride to my home.
When she dropped me, I persuaded her to stay for the night at my place fearing anything could happened to her being alone on the steering, but she assured me she would be fine. Some twenty minutes after that, I picked my phone to call her and was glad when she picked up and assured me she was at home.
Wheeew, thank God, I prayed silently inside!
On my way to the office this morning, I decided to read more on depression, its symptoms, effect and how to care about it.
As you may know, depression is a mood swing disorder that can affect anyone at any time. It is more common than I have ever imagined. Depression is a killer and truthfully in this part of the world we do not take mental illnesses seriously, we feel whoever commits suicide is foolish. We tend to belittle whatever battles they might have been facing that made them prefer death to life. Depression is more than feeling sad or bad.
A person with depression stays sad for a longer period. It makes them difficult to stay with and being around them is tasking. Normal daily activities leave them feeling tense and sad. They loose their appetite, no urge for companionship, social life or $ex. They feel so worthless and useless. They experience palpitations.
Depression have often been described by many as living in a black hole, disconsolate, down in the dumps or crestfallen. One who is depressed most times have the feelings of an impending doom lurking around the corner which is also combined with feelings of hopelessness and that of helplessness.
One thing to note is that depressions is a major risk factor for suicide and its different from the normal sadness an individual expresses sometimes in his/her life.
Who gets depressed?
The daily and constant feeling of sadness, feeling down, having a sudden loss of interest or pleasure in activities that an individual usually engages in, feeling of discouragement, gloominess, bleakness, abasement, loss of appetite, loss of energy, recurrent thoughts of death or suicide, or attempt at suicide are possible symptoms of an individual sliding into depression.
These feelings can lead to depression which is a breakdown of one’s mental health and which leads to mental sickness.
Depression or depressive disorder can happen to anyone at any age, but often times it begins with teenagers. Note that depressive disorder is not the same as a passing blue mood.
My friend Gimba has a great job with an international organization, she attended good schools while growing up. She has been to exotic places for vacation (while most of her friends including I are still dreaming of visiting). I mean she has the world at her fingertips. She is by all standards supposed to be happy always with her life. In fact, I often teased her that if I were in her shoes, I would always wear a big smile on my face, sharing cheers and never will i keep a frown. We would usually laugh it off.
Through my reading on depression, I got to know that 1 in every 5 gets depressed at a point in their lives. Most in the age bracket of 30 to 45, and there is a whole lot of things that can cause depression.
Some of the likely culprits are:
- Chemical imbalance in the brain- Anhedonia (when a person losses all interest, an inability to experience pleasure)
- Genetics- resulting from a family history of depression
- Substance abuse
- Physical illness like thyroid disease, HIV, cancers, tumors, renal diseases etc
- Stressful events and lack of people supports during tough times.
- Lost of loved ones
- Social isolation
- Poor sibling relationship
- Family pressure for females to get married (common in Africa)
- Sudden down turn of one’s economic power
- Failure to get a promotion in the office etc.
Some quick notes on depression are:
- Its occurs more in women than in men
- Life circumstances such as bereavement will produce mood changes that can usually be distinguished from the features of depression
- Even though its causes are not fully understood, but academic researchers have it that depression could be complex combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psycho-social factors.
Types of depression
Depression comes in different forms and happen in different situations and each type have different their unique characteristics and manifestations.
Persistent depressive disorder or PDD (also called dysthymia) is a depressed mood that lasts for at least two years. People with PDD might be thought of as always seeing the glass as half empty.
Perinatal depression is much more serious than the “baby blues” (relatively mild depressive and anxiety symptoms that typically clear within two weeks after delivery) that many women experience after giving birth. Women with perinatal depression experience full-blown major depression during pregnancy or after delivery (postpartum depression).
Recently, pop star Adele, in an interview opened up about her battle with postnatal depression after the birth of her son, Angelo. The singer told Vanity Fair magazine that she felt, at the time, like she had made “the worst decision” of her life.
Psychotic depression occurs when a person has severe depression plus some form of psychosis, such as having disturbing false fixed beliefs (delusions) or hearing or seeing upsetting things that others cannot hear or see (hallucinations).
Seasonal affective disorder is known to affect people in times when the amount of sunlight is reduced or less, i.,e during the cold season or winter of the year and leaves during spring or summer seasons. Major symptoms of seasonal affective disorder are:
- total withdrawal from the social scene
- Increased sleep which is accompanied usually with weight gain.
Bipolar disorder Even though it may not really be termed grade A type of depression, but it’s inclusion among the types of depressions steamed up from the fact that anyone with such bipolar disorder experiences symptoms of extremely low moods that meet the criteria for major depression known as bipolar depression.
POSSIBLE TREATMENT FOR DEPRESSION
Depression is treatable and some of the possible things to do in helping a depressed family member or friend are-
- Physical health checks
- Always reach out to your friends and family especially those who are having some difficult moments in life.
- Tell them you love them always and look out for changes in them.
- Send a smile and hug more frequently. I realize that I feel good more when I do this.
- Always share positive nuggets with yourself and family
- Exercise always, drink lots of water, eat lots of fruits and vegetables.
- Also, Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) is a great way in helping individuals battling depression. It helps by increasing the amount of Serotonin in the body and blocks any receptor along or in the brain cells that reabsorbs the chemical serotonin, thereby making it possible and difficult for more of this chemical available to “amplify” its ability to send messages between nerve cells.
- Depression is usually treated with medications, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two. If these treatments do not reduce symptoms, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and other brain stimulation therapies may be options to explore.
- Find a good therapist and check in for counseling. If there is no underlying medical cause for your symptoms of depression, then finding a mental health specialist is the next best step for treatment. Although there are many types of mental health professionals, one of the most important things to consider when choosing a therapist is your connection with this person.
Thus, in a new research involving 55 depressed adults over a period of 4 months, discovered that there are some simple questions to ask depressed people that could improve their mental health. This set of questions are called ”Socratic Questioning” with the end goal of helping depressed people to gain a broader perspective on the problems leading them to get distressed.
For example, asking a depressed person questions like the following:
- How does being divorced translate into being a failure?
- What evidence is there that you have succeeded and you are not a failure?
The earlier one gets treatment for it, the more effective it gets.
**Everyone owes a duty to check on neighbours, friends and family members who could be going through some hard times**
Any experience on this? Kindly air your thoughts in the comment section.