Alarmed by the increase in cases of depression, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has launched a one-year campaign- Depression: let’s talk. OYEYEMI GBENGA-MUSTAPHA details the tips to treat the monster in adults (over 60s), women of childbearing age, adolescents and young adults.
The life changes that come with ageing, childbirth or adolescence can lead to depression. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), depression is an illness characterised by persistent sadness and a loss of interest in activities that you normally enjoy. This is accompanied by an inability to carry out daily activities, for at least two weeks. ‘
The World Health Organisation said depression is an illness that can happen to anybody- of any age, sex, or social status. It causes mental anguish and affects people’s ability to carry out everyday tasks, with sometimes devastating consequences for relationships with family and friends. At worst, depression can lead to suicide. Fortunately, depression can be prevented and treated.
It said in addition to the above, people with depression normally have several of the following: a loss of energy; a change in appetite; sleeping more or less; anxiety; reduced concentration; indecisiveness; restlessness; feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or hopelessness; and thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
The global health watch said it has noted with concern the high incidence of depression which is common in older people but often overlooked and untreated.
It noted: “Depression among older people is often associated with physical conditions, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic pain; difficult life events, such as losing a partner; and a reduced ability to do things that were possible when younger.”
Contributing factors and prevention
Depression results from a complex interaction of social, psychological and biological factors. People who have gone through adverse life events (unemployment, bereavement, psychological trauma) are more likely to develop depression. Depression can, in turn, lead to more stress and dysfunction and worsen the affected person’s life situation and depression itself.
There are interrelationships between depression and physical health. For example, cardiovascular disease can lead to depression and vice versa.
Prevention programmes have been shown to reduce depression. Effective community approaches to prevent depression include school-based programmes to enhance a pattern of positive thinking in children and adolescents. Interventions for parents of children with behavioural problems may reduce parental depressive symptoms and improve outcomes for their children. Exercise programmes for the elderly can also be effective in depression prevention.
Sadly, it said older people are at a high risk of suicide, yet depression is treatable, with talking therapies or antidepressant medication or a combination of these.
Adolescense and young adulthood present many opportunities – for meeting new people, visiting new places and finding a direction in life. These years can also be a time of stress. If you are feeling overwhelmed rather than excited by these challenges. Having a baby is a major life event and can cause worry, tiredness and sadness. Usually these feelings don’t last long, but if they persist you may be suffering from depression.
It said depression following childbirth is very common. It affects one in six women who have given birth. Depression is an illness characterised by persistent sadness and a loss of interest in activities that you normally enjoy, accompanied by an inability to carry out daily activities, for at least two weeks.
“Symptoms of depression after childbirth also include: a feeling of being overwhelmed; persistent crying for no apparent reason; lack of bonding with your baby; and doubt about being able to care for yourself and your baby. Depression after childbirth can be treated with professional help. Talking treatments and medicines can help. Some medicines can be taken safely while breastfeeding. Without treatment, depression following childbirth can last for months or even years. It can affect your health and the development of your baby,” it stated.
Cheery news is that depression is treatable, with talking therapies or antidepressant medication or a combination of these.
WHO recommends what you can do if you are feeling down, or think you may be depressed: Talk to someone you trust about your feelings. Most people feel better after talking to someone who cares about them. If you think you are depressed, seek professional help.
Your local health-care worker or doctor is a good place to start. Remember that with the right help, you can get better.
Keep up with activities that you have always enjoyed, or find alternatives if previous activities are no longer possible. Stay connected. Keep in contact with family and friends. Eat at regular intervals and get enough sleep. Exercise regularly if you can, even if it’s just a short walk.
Also avoid or restrict alcohol intake and refrain from using illicit drugs; they can worsen depression. Only take medicine as prescribed by your health-care provider. Exercise regularly, even if it’s just a short walk. Stick to regular eating and sleeping habits. Accept that you might have depression and adjust your expectations. You may not be able to accomplish as much as you do usually. If you feel suicidal, contact someone for help immediately. (TheNation)