By Lilian Okoro
Lagos, April 28, 2021 A Consultant Neuro-Psychiatrist, Dr Maymunah Kadiri, on Wednesday identified stress as a risk factor for depression and mental health problems, which could lead to suicide.
Kadiri, also a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist, spoke at a virtual webinar organised by SUNU Health Nigeria Ltd., on “Mental Health: The New Normal, Adapting To Thrive” in Lagos.
She said that depression was a common and serious mental illness that negatively affects the way one feel, think and act.
According to her, in African region alone, close to 30 million people suffer from depression and one out of every five Nigerians will suffer depression or mental illness in their lifetime.
The neuro-psychiatrist said it was important for Nigerians to know how to prevent and manage stress and depression in order to improve their wellbeing.
She said everyone was at risk of developing the disorder as it affected people of all ages, from all works of life and in all countries.
According to her, it is currently a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.
“Depression is an illness characterised by persistent sadness, loss of interest and inability to perform daily activities for a period of over two weeks.
“It is associated with feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, tiredness and poor concentration.
“Major causes of depression include loss of loved ones or relationships, poverty, economic challenges, unemployment, physical illnesses, alcohol abuse, drug use and traumatic situations such as violence and war.
“Lack of availability of psychotropic medicines, proper information with well-structured psychotherapy and other effective measures for primary healthcare services to treat depression is cause for concern,” Kadiri said.
She explained that economic hardship amid the current health emergency situation of the Coronavirus disease outbreak contributed to depression and stress increase in the country.
The neuro-psychiatrist recommended positive self-talk, time management, exercise, being organised, re-evaluation, seeking help and speaking out as some of the techniques for managing stress and depression.
Kadiri said that early recognition of the symptoms of depression was key to preventing it from becoming a chronic illness.
She emphasised the need for one to consult a professional, a specialist or counsellor when depressed instead of abusing or misusing drugs.
The expert said that drug abuse was a risk factor for suicide, depression and other mental health problems.
According to her, many depressed people in Nigeria are not seeking medical help due to misunderstanding, poor education, lack of right information and fear of being stigmatised.
“Depression and mental health disorder like every other sickness are curable given adequate diagnosis, early intervention and proper medications.
“If left untreated, depression can be recurrent, long-lasting and debilitating.
“It impairs an individual’s ability to cope with daily activities, and can have devastating consequences on both physical and mental health,” she said.