Depressed individuals are those who are experiencing a mental health condition called depression. Depression is a mood disorder characterised by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of interest or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyable.
A mental health condition, depression goes beyond temporary feelings of sadness which significantly impacts a person’s thoughts, emotions, behaviour, and overall well-being. Depression or being depressed is a condition that affects people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. According to research, depression is a medical condition, and not not a personal weakness or character flaw.
In Nigeria, depression is a significant public health problem, and at a prevalence rate of 3.9%, with 7 million Nigerians currently suffering from it, according to the World Health Organisation.
Several studies conducted among different populations have however reported a much higher prevalence. Studies conducted in Nigeria have reported the prevalence of depression among young adults, elderly and IDPs as 25%, 26.2% and 17% respectively (3 – 5).
A recent study revealed that 20% – 59% of people living with HIV/AIDS are depressed, with the highest prevalence reported in North–Central Nigeria.
A study conducted in Western Nigeria in 2013 also reported that as high as 44.5% of clinical patients are depressed. Other studies conducted among patients with chronic illnesses like stroke, leprosy, and epilepsy have reported a prevalence rate ranging from 27.5% to 46%.
Findings by OSUN DEFENDER revealed that the high prevalence of depression frequently reported among these populations suggests that it is a very common occurrence among people who face social adversity, and difficulties.
Rampant among the methods of suicide from depressed people especially in Nigeria is the drinking of pesticides/ herbicides, engaging in drug abuse, excessive smoking, hanging onself among others.
Reasons Depressed People Fail To Speak Up
Research indicates that depressed individuals may fail to speak up before committing suicide for a variety of complex reasons:
Isolation and Loneliness: Depression can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness, making individuals believe that no one would understand or care about their struggles.
Stigma and Shame: There’s often a stigma associated with mental health issues, causing people to feel ashamed or embarrassed about their feelings and making it difficult for them to reach out for help.
Communication Challenges: Depression can affect a person’s ability to express themselves verbally, making it hard to articulate their emotions and thoughts to others.
Hopelessness: A deep sense of hopelessness and the belief that their situation will never improve can lead individuals to feel that speaking up would be futile.
Fear of Burdening Others: Depressed individuals may worry about burdening their loved ones with their problems, leading them to keep their feelings to themselves.
Misconceptions about Suicide: In some cases, depression may distort a person’s thinking, making them believe that suicide is the only solution to their pain.
Desire to Avoid Attention: Some individuals might withdraw and become quieter as a way of hiding their emotional pain or avoiding unwanted attention.
Cognitive Impairment: Depression can impact cognitive function, making it difficult for individuals to think clearly or make rational decisions, including seeking help.
Expert, Clerics Caution, Urge Depressed People To Speak Up
A counsellor at a private school in Ilesa, Osun State, Mrs Darasimi Ilesanmi urged depressed individuals to speak up and not terminate their lives.
Mrs Ilesanmi who is the opinion that all religious beliefs preach against taking one’s life, it is vital for everyone to take to caution and not see disappointments as a window to end their life.
She said: “Depression is a mental health condition that is capable of affecting anyone irrespective of your social, academic or religious status. It is a condition that has continued to live with people forever.
“The statistics nowadays is alarming. It is more disturbing that the people taking their lives nowadays are young people between the ages of 18 to 28. Why we have continued to talk to people especially those in our secondary schools, all stakeholders hands must be on deck to ensure that we reduce this rate of suicide occasioned by depression.
“I understand the economy and the state of things in our society is enough to make people think of ending their lives untimely. The truth however is that we can always do better. Instead of being depressed, find someone to talk to. Grow in situations with people. Look for elderly people to share whatever you are going through with.
“It is very sad to lose our young people. Last week, a son of a Chief Imam died after taking Sniper pesticide. He was said to have been depressed out of his parent’s utterances and some other personal issues. We should all be careful of how we talk to people and what we say in people’s faces.
“We should avoid staying alone. Engage in exercises and find ourselves around people who would encourage us everytime. It is very important for young people especially those of upcoming age.”
Speaking with this medium, two clerics, Ustadh Adam Abdulrasak and Pastor Kelvin Orukpe said Islam and Christianity abhors suicide.
According to them, whoever kills himself stands to incur the wrath of the Almighty in the grave and in the hear after.
They urged young people to take to advice from elderly people, exercise restraint in chasing worldly affairs, embrace hard work as well as commitment to serving God and Humanity.
The respondents undeescored the need for the government and other stakeholders to raise awareness about mental health, provide support, and create an environment where individuals feel comfortable discussing their feelings.
They also urged people to draw the attention or seek help from mental health professionals, helplines, or support networks when they detect someone struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts around them.