According to WHO, it is estimated that 3.8% of the world’s population has suffered from depression with 5.0 being adults and 5.7 % being adults older than 63 years of age.
Depression also referred to as major depressive disorder or clinical depression is a mood disorder that negatively affects how you feel, think and behave. Depression is among the most common mental illnesses worldwide. It brings feelings of sadness and loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed doing. You may have problems doing your daily activities such as sleeping, eating, and the ability to function at home and work.
Kenya is ranked fifth in Africa with the highest number of depression cases. According to mental health experts, 1in every 4 Kenyans may be suffering from mental health-related issues ranging from mild to severe disorders.
Mental health is a state of mental well-being that enables people to manage difficult situations in life. It includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being.
Kenya still struggles with the treatment of mental health cases due to a lack of resources. Individuals in need of mental health care are all directed to Mathare National Hospital. More so, Kenyans are not educated on how to deal with mental disorders hence a good number do not seek treatment or do not know where to access treatment.
Stigmatization of victims of Mental disorders has also hindered Kenyans from effectively seeking mental health care. Culture and beliefs that mental illness is spiritual or is caused by witchcraft and cannot be treated have left many patients in the streets and unattended to, with family and community refusing to associate with them.
Signs and Symptoms of Depression
Depressive episodes are categorized as mild, moderate, or severe depending on how it affects individual and the symptoms portrayed during an episode.
To know you are depressed, observe the following signs and symptoms if they occur most of the day, daily for at least two weeks.
- Suicidal thoughts or attempts to commit suicide
- Feeling hopeless or unworthy and having low self-esteem
- Disrupted sleep. Oversleeping or lack of sleep
- Change in eating habits. Eating too much or little and lack of appetite
- Fatigue (pain, weakness, headaches)
- Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Difficulty functioning in the family, social, occupational, educational, and other significant areas of life
- Always anxious
- Forgetfulness and hesitate to make decisions
- Isolating from friends, family
Depression is a complex disease as a result of psychological, biological, and social factors. Some people go into depression due to medical reasons, trauma, or life-changing events that occur. Others have a family history of depression.
These are the main causes
- Abuse: Adults or children who have experienced physical, sexual, or emotional abuse may end up depressed if they don’t get the necessary help
- Age: Elderly people are at a higher risk of depression due to loneliness and lack of social support
- Conflicts: People who live in war zone countries, countries that have experienced political unrest or violence, disputes within the family may lead to depression
- Death or loss: Grieving for the death of a close family member, or friend, or a miscarriage in women increases the risks of depression
- Substance Misuse: the use hard of drugs and alcohol may lead to depression
- Adverse life events: loss of a job, divorce, or separation, traumatic accidents that led to a disability may push an individual to depression
- Medical Conditions: Major illnesses or chronic diseases such as cancer, and diabetes can lead to depression.
Depression as mentioned earlier is a complex disease. It affects your life and prevents you from living a quality healthy life. Depression can be prevented by avoiding its triggers and changing our lifestyle. What to do:
Physical exercise is good for mental health. You do not have to go to a gym. Simple exercises such as walking, jogging, and press-ups will make the nervous system relax.
Reduce social media time
Spending too much time on social media may lead to isolation as the person doesn’t have time for family or friends. Take time off from social media by deleting some apps and logging in only when necessary. Start attending real events and meeting people.
What comes in is what comes out. A healthy diet may prevent depression. Experts recommend foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy oils, and whole grains. You should also limit the intake of red meat, lots of sugar, and fats.
Get lots of sleep.
People with sleep difficulties have a risk of developing depression. Quality sleep is recommended to prevent depression. To get better sleep, avoid screening two hours before sleep. Avoid large meals and caffeine and exercise during the day. A good comfortable mattress and a quite dark room will help you sleep.
Avoid Toxic People
Who is the person around you? How do they make you feel? Some people are bullies who will use words or actions to intimidate others to make themselves feel better. Stay away from such as much as possible.
Reduce alcohol and drug use
Alcohol and drug abuse are addictive and can be hard to stop using. But with rehabilitation and therapy, you can stop or reduce the intake of alcohol. Replace it with juice or water.
Look for a confidant. It can be a friend or a counselor. Talking to people can help identify the cause of your depression hence finding a solution.
The treatment of depression highly depends on the extent and pattern of the episode an individual has experienced. There are three types of therapy a healthcare provider can offer depending on the patient’s signs and symptoms. A patient may also require to take antidepressant medications if asked for further treatment,
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
A person’s thoughts can affect their daily behavior. This therapy studies how thoughts influence daily feelings. Negative thoughts can lead to self-destruction. A person with depression may have a cycle of negative thoughts, feeling they are not capable of doing anything right. The therapist trains this individual to manage their thoughts and think positively.
- Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)
Interpersonal therapy is a manual-based treatment. The therapist focuses on current relationships and events that are happening in the person’s life. How an individual interacts with or doesn’t interact with others. The treatment is evidence-based.
- Psychodynamic therapy
Psychodynamic therapy is talking therapy. It’s based on the fact that talking about pressing issues can help a person be aware of the causes of their problems and learn how to handle them. It helps a person understand how their experience affects their current ways of thinking and behavior.
Depression is a common disease that every other person in the world experience. Persons suffering from depression should not feel ashamed to seek treatment. Depression is preventable and treatable. Avoid triggers of depression and live a happy fulfilling life.
Freelance writer and podcaster