What is Depression?
Depression is an illness characterised by persistent sadness and a loss of interest in activities normally enjoyed, accompanied by an inability to carry out daily activities, for at least two weeks. Depression is the largest cause of disability worldwide.
Who Does it Affect?
Depression can affect any person. One in five women, one in twelve men, two percent of children and five percent of teenagers suffer from depression. No one is immune to depression. It can affect anyone directly or indirectly.
Factors Predisposing to Depression
- Genetic predisposition
- Troubled relationships
- Substance abuse, especially alcohol
- Natural catastrophe
- Death of a loved one or a spouse
- Domestic violence
- Sexual or physical abuse
- Personality disorders
- Mental illness
- Chronic medical conditions like diabetes, hypertension and HIV/AIDs
- Erectile dysfunction
- Single status in late adulthood
Symptoms of Depression
- Persistent sad, anxious, empty mood
- Feeling of helplessness
- Feeling of guilt and worthlessness
- Loss of interest in things normally enjoyed
- Loss of appetite, weight loss, or weight gain
- Suicide attempts
- Restlessness; irritability
- Difficulty in concentration and decision making
- Headaches, chronic pain and digestive disorders
How to Handle Depression
According to the World Health Organisation, the following are ways to handle depression:
- Talk to someone you trust about your feelings.
- Seek professional help. Your local healthcare worker or doctor is a good place to start.
- Remember that with the right help, you can get better.
- Stay connected. Keep in contact with family and friends.
- Exercise regularly, even if it’s just as 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.
- Avoid or restrict alcohol intake and refrain from using illicit drugs; they can worsen depression.
- If you feel suicidal, contact someone for help immediately.