Depression is a very popular topic in our world today and needs to be taken seriously. According to the World Health Organization, depression will be the 2nd highest medical cause of disability by the year 2030, second only to HIV/AIDS.
On Saturday the 26th, I was given the opportunity to speak to teenagers in my church. They had a 2 day programme and though I didn’t go the first day which was Friday (was at work), the one I experienced on Saturday was wonderful and I learned a lot. My favourite part of it all was questions the teenagers asked. You could tell that they needed to understand several things from sex, relationships,
personality, grooming, self-reflection, identity, drugs and so on. It was a great experience and I understood a lot.
I was asked to speak on Depression and Peer Pressure. When I got these topics, of course I was excited, so I began my research. I must say, I found it interesting and though broad, I was able to pick out the important points because of time. I decided to share what I found out with you all. Some of you may know these things and I’d love contributions and if you are a psychologist, even perfect!
So, I am going to speak on depression first (the post is quite long) and the next post would be on peer pressure.
What is Depression?
According to the American Psychiatric Association, depression is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Depression can be mild or severe.
Depression is usually associated with low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin can affect mood and social behaviour, appetite and digestion, sleep, memory and sexual desire and function.
What are the Symptoms?
The following are the symptoms of which symptoms must last at least two weeks for a diagnosis of depression:
- Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
- Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Loss of energy or increased fatigue
- Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., hand-wringing or pacing) or slowed movements and speech (actions observable by others)
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide
These symptoms alone might not mean one is depressed. You have to be diagnosed by a professional to know for sure.
What are the Causes?
The following could make one become depressed.
- Abuse – this could be physical, mental or sexual abuse
- Certain medications such as Isotretinoin used in treatment of acne, certain antiviral drugs and corticosteroids
- Conflict – this could be conflict with self, family members or friends
- Death or loss – grief is really a horrible thing. It’s not easy to go through at all. Though grief is different from depression, it could transcend into depression
- Serious illnesses such as cancer
- Substance abuse
- Low self-esteem or insecurities – this can make one depressed. I wrote something about emotional insecurity here
- Life problems and challenges
- Feelings of rejection – human beings want acceptance. Everyone in one way or the other is seeking acceptance. Feelings of rejection can be awful and leave one feeling depressed.
- Negative thoughts – we are humans and sometimes cannot help thinking negatively and too much of these thoughts could leave one feeling down, worthless, hopeless and so on and this can cause one to be depressed
- Lack of sense of purpose – everyone somewhere wants to know what their purpose in this world is and when we don’t see that, we tend to feel empty, void, like something is missing somewhere in our lives. To feel something, some people resort to doing things that could cause them to at least feel something, maybe pain (by cutting themselves and so on), maybe being high and so on.
When someone is depressed, they tend to get that feeling of wanting nothing to do with anyone. They want to be left alone, sometimes they feel like disappearing and might even attempt suicide. Other times, depressed people do not necessarily feel sad, at least not outwardly to others. These set of people look happy and lively that you wouldn’t guess they are depressed except you look within. Some of them tend to really party hard or do things that take them away from their problems or challenges.
How do we overcome Depression?
I realized that some people that are depressed do not even know that they are depressed.
In the church, there are depressed people but most at times we don’t seem to address these issues because we probably feel a child of God cannot be depressed or we feel it is a spiritual issue. Depression is a medical illness that can be treated. It could be spiritual too. As Christians, we cannot ignore the fact that there are forces of evil that would want to take away our joy Ephesians 6:12.
God’s plan for us is not depression, He loves us all and the bible makes it known that God wants us to have joy and peace. The bible says that Jesus came that you may have life and have it abundantly. Though depression can be treated medically, we cannot underestimate or ignore the power of God to heal us.
The following are ways with which we can overcome depression:
- Seek professional help – you could speak to a psychologist or therapist. It is said that a problem shared is half solved. In Nigeria we do not really patronize psychologist because we feel, why pay someone to listen to you? I feel it’s a bad mentality because they are really helpful. Most of us in the nation are depressed and sometimes we know it, sometimes we don’t. If there are no psychologists around or they are too expensive for you, you could seek wise counsel from someone mature you feel would be understanding and help you out. There are people like that and an example could be a friend, an elder in the church and so on.
- Medications – your therapist or a professional could help you with which one to take
- Eat well – eat a balanced and healthy diet that would provide you with essential nutrients such as folic acid, vitamin B12 and so on
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine and other depressants – these stuff tend to affect the brain function by disturbing the neurotransmitters involved in mood and behaviour
- Exercise daily – it is known that exercise leaves one a positive feeling. It makes you feel good to know that you ate healthy and took a walk today. It feels like you accomplished something. This could be attributed to the dopamine being released and dopamine is involved in feelings of happiness.
- Sleep well – this is important as distorting the circadian rhythm of sleep can affect how the body functions
- Think positive thoughts – It is not easy to avoid thinking negative thoughts or to not let the negative thoughts get to heart but we could try to block them by saying something positive. When negative thoughts arise, we could counter it. E.g., “I am worthless and everyone thinks that, I really can’t go far, I can’t be successful”. You could counter it with “People might think I’m worthless and can’t get anything done, but I refuse to believe and accept it. I know God loves me and He’d totally disagree with them. Therefore I have worth, I can do all things, I can be successful!”. The bible tells us not to be anxious about anything and it speaks of God’s peace (Phil 4:6-7). It also went further to encourage us to think of things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy (Phil 4:8)
- Seek purpose – Like I mentioned, lack of sense of purpose could be one of the causes of depression. Everyone wants to know what their purpose is. We want to fill a void in our lives, and for me, Jesus does it. He fills it for me and I have found purpose in Him and His word. For others, it is drugs, their profession, their achievements, their family, their partner and so on. Others also find purpose by helping someone or doing acts of kindness. Whatever you use or seek, make sure it is permanent and unfailing and Jesus is all that.
In all, always remember that you are never alone.
I would like to state that if you notice that someone is depressed, probably they don’t know, please do not mock them or judge them or reduce them to nothing, instead we should have them seek help. Also, if you notice someone is suicidal, please you could report it to your country suicide line for help. If you feel so depressed, you feel like committing suicide, please know that you are loved. If not by anyone, by God and He values you so much. You have no idea the impact you could make in other people’s lives. Though you are going through what you are going through, tomorrow your story could change the world and save a couple of life. Never forget that. At least that should give you a sense of purpose, knowing that you could change someone’s life.
Finally, this is the end. Its long, yea I know but I tried to reduce it and that was the best I could do, lol. I’d love to read your comments.
Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog for more and you can follow me on my social media pages:
@__nakas on Instagram
The Royal Deviant on Facebook
@ndukweodinaka on Twitter