Depression is an illness just like malaria or typhoid or cholera or HIV. People who are depressed do not need sleep to clear their heads, most times, they find it difficult to even sleep because insomnia usually accompanies depression. They need a doctor, a doctor who would not tell them to go home because there is nothing wrong with them. Depression is not a 'white man's disease' and frankly, there's no such thing as a white man's disease.
It's unfortunate that in Nigeria, we do not understand depression and we aren't ready to. In Nigeria, depression doesn't exist. You don't tell people that you're depressed here because they'd tell you to go to bed, 'sleep it off,' they'd say. As if depression is a mild headache that you get from laughing too much. In Nigeria, you don't tell people that you're afraid of heights and you've been since you were little. You don't tell people that you're claustrophobic and can't breath in the middle of a large crowd. These things are alien to people around here. But the earlier we realize how serious some of these things could get, the better for everyone.
What Is Depression?
Depression (clinical depression or unipolar depression) is actually a mental disorder characterized by consistent low mood accompanied by drooping self esteem. Things that a depressed person used to find interesting and fascinating suddenly becomes bland and boring.
The word 'depression' is a broad term and could mean either this disorder or many other variants of disorders that affect the mood.
Why Should We Take Depression Seriously
Here's a good reason, sixty (60) percent of all known cases of suicide have been done by people with clinical depression.
A depressed person is more likely to attempt to take his/her own life. I was watching the news last night and there was this story of a woman who hung from a tree, nobody knew what happened to her. Everyone woke up to find her there, dead, her neck, hanging from one of the branches of the tree. Imagine that she killed herself. Now imagine what was going on in her head just before she decided to. Now imagine that there was someone to help. Someone there to talk to her, perhaps make her smile, to talk her out of it.
Depression affects mainly a patient's relationship with himself or herself, with family at work and with friends. Insomnia is known to be an accompaniment, as I mentioned earlier. At least 80% of depressed people have insomnia. Hypersomnia or oversleeping also occurs in some cases.
One tends no longer to enjoy and find happiness in things that used to bring enjoyment and happiness before onset of the disorder.
Depressed people may have thoughts and feelings of worthlessness and self doubt. They may prefer to be alone because they believe they aren't needed and those kinds of things.
Can You Help?
Yes, of course you can.
First and most importantly, if you are one that still hangs on to the old story, 'depression is not an illness, the boy doesn't know his problem. He's watched too many Hollywood movies.' You need to let go of that old story. You need to understand that if you keep thinking like that, you're sending him towards suicide. You need to accept the fact that depression is a disorder, like diabetes.
Secondly, don't judge, don't make too much noise, don't whine. A depressed person has a diminished self worth, being judgmental is only going to worsen the situation.
Learn as much as you can about the disorder. If you know a lot about it, you know how best to handle it.
Finally, be patient with people because you may think you're having a rough day until you meet a person slowly going through hell and slowly slipping away. Watch your mouth and be patient.
That's really all I have to say about this, for now. Depression is serious and it shouldn't be treated any less.
Till next time,, Keep dreaming!!