With the alarming increase in the number of people living with depression, the Faculty of Health Sciences of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) in conjunction with the Nigerian Psychological Association, recently used this year’s edition of World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Day to bring to the fore the various ways to tackle depression in the society, writes FELIX KHANOBA.
the recent time, reported cases of individuals who had either committed or attempted suicide in the country as a result of depression have continued to be a major source of concern to various stakeholders in the health sector.
A recent research reveals that out of the over 300 million people that suffer from depression worldwide, Nigeria accounts for 48 million, even as experts have warned of possible increase if the growing menace is not properly addressed.
But determined to create adequate awareness to arrest the growing number of depression cases in Nigeria, the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), in conjunction with the Nigerian Psychological Association, leveraged on this year’s celebration of World Health Organisation’s Day to bring to the fore the various ways to tackle the mental disorder.
Speaking at the event in Abuja, NOUN Vice Chancellor, who was also the chief host, Prof. Abdalla Uba Adamu, said depression must not be treated with kid gloves because of its highly negative effects.
While saying that , “depression is a very serious mental disorder that affects people of all ages from all works of life, Prof. Adamu stated that “the risk of becoming depressed is increased by life events such as the death of a loved one or a relationship break up, poverty, unemployment, physical illness and problems caused by drug abuse and alcohol.”
According to the erudite scholar, everyone has experienced depression at one point or the other due to sad feelings and worry over unfortunate circumstances, adding that “untreated depression can lead to suicide but can effectively be prevented and treated through talking therapy or antidepressant medication.”
On her part, the Dean of Faculty of Health Sciences, Dr Jane-Frances Agbu, said WHO’s Day which is marked April 7 every year, provides institutions the opportunity to mobilise actions around health topic of concern to people all over the world.
She said, the theme, “Let’s talk depression,” was a wakeup call to the recent report of WHO which notes that more than 300 million people are living with depression and the need to ensure the general public is better informed, know the causes and consequences as well as the prevention to help improve on the quality of life.
One of the guest speakers and Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Wahab Akorede, who spoke on clinical depression, said depression is often characterised by persistent sadness and loss of interest in activities, accompanied by an inability to carry out daily activities for at least two weeks.
“People with depression normally have loss of energy, change in appetite, sleeping more or less, anxiety, reduced concentration, indecisiveness, restlessness, feelings of worthlessness, guilt or hopelessness, variation of moods, among others” he said, just as he called on depressed people to seek professional help from doctors.
On his part, President of the Nigerian Psychological Association, Prof. Andrew Zamani, who spoke on environmental depression, said typical experience of depression, which could be caused by many factors, is having a gloomy picture of life, doubting one’s self, loss faith in people, self isolation, negative interpretations, religious manipulations, among others.
He identified the various ways depression can be avoided to include quick resolve of hurt or anger feelings, improvement in life skills, spiritual development, seeking of help on overwhelming issues, humour and rewarding leisure activities as well as maintaining a healthy balance between work and rest.