Depression is most likely not regarded as an ailment by most Nigerians and indeed most Africans but the American Psychiatric Association (APA) defines Depression as a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel; the way you think and how you act. It is important to note that grief is quite different from depression. They may appear the same, a reason that might lead to a confusion of both. Grieving is normal especially for a loss of job, a relationship or a loved one but they rarely result to the feeling of worthlessness as it is in the case of depression. When we grieve, we still have some flashes of hope and a better future but depression obliterates them all. Grief however, may lead to depression if not checked. Anybody can suffer depression irrespective of age, class or status.

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Because depression is rarely considered a medical issue, most common folks hardly seek the help of an expert when depression sets in. We have heard many cases of suicides and suicide attempts which obviously arise from depression; the most recent being the woman who was reported to have jumped off the Third Mainland Bridge (in Lagos) into the Lagoon. Unconfirmed reported later emerged that she must have suffered depression arising from complicated issues of marriage and relationships. She wasn’t the first person to commit suicide by jumping off the Third Mainland Bridge. Another unconfirmed report on one of the popular blogs has it that a man also committed suicide on the same bridge a day before.  The spate of suicide on the bridge alone has elicited calls for the bridge railings to be raised higher. Raising the railings would however have little or no effect as the bridge is not the cause of the suicides. The real culprit is depression. Studies have shown that 1 out of every 10 depressed persons commit suicide.

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Causes of Depression:

A lot of issues can cause depression and some of them might include:

  • Broken Relationships: divorce, separation, break-ups
  • Failures in career or businesses
  • Grief
  • Bullying (especially amongst young people)
  • Low self esteem.
  • Stress
  • Terminal illness
  • Physical challenges
  • Biological factors such as genetics, brain disorders, hormonal imbalances in women.
  • Physical, Emotional or Psychological Abuse.


Symptoms of Depression:

What are the signs that one is gliding into depression?

  • Lack of interest in activities one once enjoyed.
  • Feeling of sadness and loss of appetite.
  • Increased fatigue and sleepless nights
  • Loss of interest in life.
  • Feeling of guilt and worthlessness.

Depression can actually be treated if specialists are consulted. The best place to start is your regular doctor who might now recommend a specialist. It is also important to note that well trained religious leaders and counselors do their best in saving a depressed individual but it is advisable that the counseling sessions are combined with visits to specialists. Share your feelings with trusted friends and families. Don’t assume they know and don’t assume you’ve done so badly that no one would listen to you.

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You can help reduce the level of suicides by identifying and helping someone who is sad or depressed.  Ordinary phone call can save someone from ending it all. Check on your families, friends and acquaintances on regular basis. A problem shared is said to be half-solved.