Safe And Sane With Dr Ola:Depression


Depression is one of the common mental disorders among most populations worldwide. It is probably the leading cause of suicide globally. As part of our routine assessment of individuals who have symptoms of a depressive episode, mental health professionals have to ask for thoughts of suicide and/or suicidal attempts.

It has been documented by the World Health Organization that depression is currently the 4th leading cause of disability while also projecting that in about 2 years from now (2020), depression will probably be the 2nd leading cause of disability all over the world.

The estimated cost of depression in the United State of America alone annually is not less than 200 billion. The recurrent nature of depressive disorder makes it run a long course in persons who suffer from major depressive episodes.

Some individuals are more likely to come down with a depressive illness. These include; persons who have a family history of depression or any other mental illness, someone who has recently suffered a loss (loved one, job, relationships) and individuals undergoing a personal turmoil or dispute with others. Others are persons who had previously experienced abuse (physical, sexual, emotional).

It is important to note that major life events could also trigger a depressive episode. These include seemingly positive things like moving from one place to another, changing jobs or graduating! In actual fact, in settings like ours where graduates are not getting jobs easily, the situation of unemployment or underemployment could tip someone into a depressive disorder.

Recognizing depression

Being able to manage depression effectively is highly dependent on early recognition of the features. As a mood disorder, the core feature of a depressive episode is feeling sad or low mood. Beyond the transient or immediate reaction to a specific circumstance or situation that dampens an individual’s spirit, a low mood is more intense, lasts longer in duration and tends to color the psychic life of the individual.

This means that it will affect the way you think, the way you talk, the way you behave and the way you relate with everyone and everything around you. Hence, the low mood of a depressive disorder will be accompanied by loss of interest in pleasurable activities or decrease in drive or motivation to engage in activities previously found enjoyable.

There could also be a decrease in physical energy to engage in daily activities. For depressed individuals, everything seems to slow down. Colors appear dull while everything seems gloomy. Depression is also accompanied by poor sleep which could be a decrease or increase in sleep.

The sleep is also full of nightmares and feeling of not haven rested in the morning after. There could be compensatory daytime sleepiness with general feelings of being unwell during the day. All physiological functions like appetite and sexual drive are also reduced. The thoughts of a depressed person are mostly towards negativity.

They remember the past with feelings of guilt, feel worthless in their current state and feel hopeless about the future. Worrying thoughts in depressed persons could give rise to thoughts of dying, losing all or strongly held delusional thinking.

The number of symptoms, the intensity of the impairment in functioning or limitations and the duration of the symptoms are considered in the determination of the type and the severity of the depressive episode. If a depressed person is having hallucinations or delusions, the episode is considered to be psychotic in nature.

Treatment options

Depression is treatable! Most depressive episodes will resolve without the use of medications. For instance, if there are major psychosocial issues or life events, simply helping the sufferer to adopt the right coping strategy will go a long way to ameliorate the depressive illness. Talking to the right people about issues bothering us can go a long way to prevent our slipping gradually into a depressive illness when things don’t go the way we want.

I will be concluding this discussion next week by discussing how we can manage depression with or without medication. Until then, remain safe and sane and help other do the same.

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