Depression is an emotion of sadness that plagues an individual. A persistent moodiness or feeling of sadness that occurs for at least 6 months, depression varies from one individual to another. While one person considers the end of a six-year relationship with a significant other as one of these things that happen in life, for another it is the end of life itself and leads to a series of event that ends up in depression.
According to the world health organization, depression is a very common mental health disorder. Globally, more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression. It is also the leading cause of disability worldwide and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease. At its worst, depression can lead to suicide. Close to 800,000 people die due to suicide every year (WHO 2018) and according to a study conducted at the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, depression cases in Nigeria amount to about 1.5 million cases per year.
What are the risk factors for depression?
- Genetics: Depression like most mental illness can run in families. For example, if one’s identical twin has depression, the other twin has a 70% chance of having the illness sometime in life.
- Personality Type: People with low self-esteem, who are easily overwhelmed by stress or who are generally pessimistic are more likely to experience depression.
- Biochemistry: Differences in certain chemicals in the brain may contribute to depression.
- Environmental factor: Continuous exposure to violence, neglect, abuse or poverty may make some people more vulnerable to depression.
How can one prevent falling into depression?
Hope is the source of strength amidst devastating events such as economic recessions, earthquakes and hurricanes that destroy lives and properties. People need hope. We need to know that even if life doesn’t go as planned right now, tomorrow is another day and tomorrow might be joyful. We must always believe that tomorrow will be better irrespective of what happens today. We must believe that somewhere at the end of dark roads, there will always be light. With that in mind, we must always push forward irrespective of what life throws at us.
No man is an island. Bearing this in mind, it is important to have meaningful relationships with people whether they are family, colleagues or people from our place of worship. Having a support system is necessary for those tough days when it seems like we are overwhelmed by the things happening in our lives.
We must also be available to support others, reach out to them in their times of need by doing this we not only help others but we help ourselves by connecting with others.
People who bottle up their feelings are more likely to come down with depression than those who express how they feel. It is important that we learn the art of self-expression. There is nothing shameful about expressing how you truly feel no matter how silly you think you will appear to others. No matter how caring or dedicated people around you are to you, they will never truly understand how you are feeling if you don’t open up to them.
Ask for Help
Always ask for help. Don’t wait for people to reach out to you. Support systems are there for a reason. Talk to someone about the things happening in your life, whether it is stress at work, failure in school or a relationship that is falling apart, ask for help from trusted individuals.
Isolating yourself from others is the easiest way to slip into depression, and isolation is also the commonest symptom to watch out for in people going through depression. When experiencing any form of disappointment or hurt in life, it is best not to push people away or go into isolation.
Self-awareness is extremely important to protect yourself. You need to filter the things that get to you by choosing your battles wisely. Things might not always go as you planned so embrace your mistakes and try to improve on them. Above all don’t let circumstances or people define you.
Eat Right and Exercise
People who eat a balanced diet and exercise are less likely to come down with depression, exercising helps to elevate one's mood and reduces the level of stress the body experiences.
Maintain Joy Always
Find joy in everyday life. Some days will be harder than others and happiness is a choice. Joy should be a survival instinct, therefore on bad days try to remember good days. It will keep you sane in a world that is ever full of troubles.
Already experiencing depression? Here are a few tips to help you overcome depression:
Develop A Positive Coping Mechanism.
There are both positive and negative coping mechanisms which include stress eating (some people react to stressors in their lives by overeating which could lead to excessive weight gain and obesity) while others opt for smoking, isolation/withdrawal, drinking alcohol or taking drugs/stimulants. All of these coping mechanisms are negative. They might be able to relieve depression for a while or distract you but, they cause more harm than good. The list of positive coping mechanisms that can help in overcoming depression is endless but here are few of them:
- Talking to someone about how you feel
- Meditate or pray
- Listen to music
- Listen or read inspirational stories of people who have overcome difficult situations
- Take a trip or Vacation
- Write your thoughts down
Finally, have a positive attitude towards life.
Always look on the bright side of life. Even if things seem bleak, having the right attitude not only helps to overcome depression but it also increases your lifespan. Be grateful for the little blessings in your life, this way you stay confident and happy. Never compare yourself with other people; this could make you feel miserable when you compare people’s achievement with yours.
Article By: Usoro Benita Inyang