Last Friday, the founder of Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative, Dr. Victor Ugo was our guest. Dr. Ugo had been guest on Crux of the Matter on Radio and TV and we were once again, honored to have him on the Live Tweetchat segment of show.
Dr. Ugo shared more insights on Depression. Here is a recap of the 2hours conversation with Elsie Godwin on Crux of the Matter:
What is Depression?
Depression is a mood disorder that causes distressing symptoms that affects how you feel, think, and handle daily activities. These symptoms must be present most of the day, nearly every day for at least 2 weeks.
Many researchers believe it is caused by chemical changes in the brain with multi-factorial implications including genetic, biological, environmental and psychosocial factors.
How is depression diagnosed?
Depression is diagnosed solely on clinical basis, after an evaluation by a Psychiatrist. This Evaluation cuts across History of symptoms, as well as physical and psychiatric evaluation using set out guidelines
We often hear people say Depression is not a Nigerian thing. Is this mental illness for a particular Race, tribe or region?
There is no epidemiological predilection and anyone can be affected. The establishment however seems new to Nigerians because of better exposure via social media et al. But, depression as well as other mental illnesses have been here for generations.
Is depression hereditary?
In close to 50% of cases there has been genetic implications. The exact genes involved in depression have not been completely isolated, but research has shown a correlation.
Forms or Stages of Depression
Depression can be staged as mild, moderate or severe based on the presence of symptoms grouped by core and related Symptoms.
In mild depression one of the core symptoms must be present and usually no more than four related symptoms.
Moderate depression would suggest that two core symptoms are present as well as four or more related symptoms.
Severe depression is almost certain to include all three core symptoms and most if not all the related symptoms or any of the related symptoms with suicidal ideation
Signs and symptoms of depression
Core symptoms include Low mood, Low energy and a lack of pleasure in previously pleasurable activities.
Related symptoms include: Sleep pattern disturbances, Change in appetite, Tiredness, Sluggish movements or agitation. Difficulty in concentrating or solving simple everyday problems, Feelings of guilt and/or worthless…
Bipolar disorder is another common type of mental illness. Is Bipolar disorder similar to depression?
Not quite. It is only a type of mental illness that has depression or low mood as a component. Like the name ‘bipolar’ implies, these individuals suffer a period of depression which is later overlapped by mania phases.
At what age is it likely and unlikely for humans to suffer depression?
Depression has been diagnosed in children as little as 5yrs of age. These children show atypical symptoms however, the setting in of depression varies from one geographical region to another. In developing countries as ours, the risk increases with advancing age.
What are some of the risk factors associated with developing depression?
Alcohol or drug abuse, Certain medical conditions, including underactive thyroid, cancer, or long-term pain, Certain medications such as steroids, Sleeping problems, Stressful life events (like loss of a loved one or job loss).
I read somewhere that Depression seems to be more common among women than men. True or false?
Any particular reason for this?
So many factors come into play including the fact that Women appear to be particularly more vulnerable during pregnancy. Also differences in socioeconomic factors, including abuse, education and income, may impact the higher rate in women.
How can one tell if he or she is depressed?
Depression is not synonymous to sadness. However, we often find that people mistake sadness for depression. If you do notice any of the symptoms listed in this chat, with or without triggers, then it’s best to go in for evaluation.
What is the difference between grief and depression?
Where Sadness is an emotion that is the opposite of happiness.
Grief is a non-clinical feeling of deep sadness following a loss and that comes in stages.
Depression is a clinical condition requiring a clinical diagnosis by a psychiatrist.
Can one slip into depression from grief? And when do we start worrying about a grieving person?
Yes grief is one of the life events which can predispose to depression.
We should be worried when we start seeing the symptoms of depression as discussed in this chat session.
It seems that more people are depressed nowadays than in the past. Is the rate of depression increasing?
Yes you can say there’s an increase but also there is increased awareness.
What is the relationship between substance abuse and depression?
People who suffer depression tend to abuse substances. Likewise, individuals who abuse substances are also predisposed to having depression and its complications.
Can depression be treated? If yes, how?
There are a number of ways. But most routinely, through the use of psychotherapy or medications known as antidepressants.
What Medications Are Used to Treat Depression?
They are commonly called Antidepressants – selective and non-selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are examples.
Can depression be prevented?
Just as some physical illnesses can be prevented to an extent by hygiene and lifestyle modifications, so too can depression. And just like some physical illnesses come even in people with optimal lifestyles, so too does depression.
How often does depression lead to suicide?
The risk of suicide in depression is on the rise, with 30% of depressed cases attempting and completing a suicide attempt.
Managing and living with depression: what are the Dos and Donts?
- Try to be active and exercise
- Break up large tasks into small ones
- Set priorities, and do what you can as you can
- Spend time with others
- Confide in trusted friends/relative
- Postpone important life decisions until you feel better
- Discuss decisions with others who know you well
- Avoiding self-medication with alcohol or with drugs not prescribed for you
Can a person suffering from depression have a good romantic relationship? And how can his or her partner help?
Just like every other chronic illness, Patients are encouraged to use their medications and visit their therapists without defaulting and lead normal lives. They can enjoy loving relationships like other people.
Partners help by reading more to understand the illness better; Offer support, understanding, patience, and encouragement;
Invite him or her out for walks, outings, and other activities;
Help him or her adhere to the treatment plan, such as setting reminders to take prescribed medications;
Help him or her by ensuring that he or she has keeps to appointments at the therapists’ or psychiatrists;
Remind him or her that, with time and treatment, they will get through
Finally, what are the help centers for depression in Nigeria? If I think I am depressed, how can I get help?
If you think you are depressed, I encourage you to go to the closest facility with a neuropsychiatric clinic for evaluation. If you need help identifying these centers or preparing for your first visit, then you can reach out to Mentally Aware Initiative Nigeria – @mentallyawareng
Join us every Friday by 7pm on twitter with the hashtag #CruxoftheMatter for interesting and insightful conversations. Also watch Crux of the Matter on R2TV (GOTV 112) every Wednesday/Thursday at 9:30pm.