A few days ago, a man jumped off Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos. He died by suicide. A day later, a woman jumped off the same bridge but was rescued. Luckily for her. The man was found to be a medical doctor- his family still can’t accept the fact that he’s dead. A saddening fact. However, people have begun designing memes and writing posts on social media ridiculing the life and death of this poor doctor. People have refused to see how his death has affected and will affect his family for a very long time. We can be cruel like that, especially when we are not the ones being directly affected by such things like suicide.
I sat down and thought about this doctor who decided to take his life, as well as the woman who tried to take her life, and I realized that they were depressed. Yes, depressed. It happens to everyone at one point or the other but some of us are not strong enough to overcome it. This is a fact that we all need to face. This is something that we all need to understand. Stick with me as I explain what depression is, and the necessary steps that you need to take when you experience symptoms of it.
Everyone gets depressed. Even the happiest people on earth do. Some people don’t get that depression is a mental illness. An illness that affects the mind and body and darkens it. When you’re depressed, you don’t want to see anyone or do anything. Getting out of bed in the morning becomes difficult. You lack motivation. You find it hard to feel happy emotions or to even have good thoughts- everything inside and outside your head is just dark, dark, dark.
Guess what? Depression has shown that it has no favorites, preferences, and limits when it comes to affecting people. Whether you’re old, young, middle- age, black, white, or any other color in-between, depression doesn’t really care. Depression doesn’t care about our cultures, ages, genders or any other thing that defines us as who and what we are.
Why? Because depression is a human condition and as humans, we all have the potential to be touched by it in one way or the other. Depression can affect someone we love, indirectly affecting us or we could be struggling with depression ourselves. There is so much research happening in the area of depression and as a result, the way some of us understand it is changing shape dramatically.
Here’s what you need to know about depression;
- Depression is an illness of the entire body, and not the mind only. This may be why people with depression are more likely to be treated for cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Research links depression to oxidative stress- this is when the body produces a lot of free radicals and can’t get rid of them. Free radicals cause damage to very important parts of cells- which means that cells can’t function well and will possibly die. While there are other triggers for oxidative stress, depression is a major one.
- Inflammation in the blood stream can also fuel depression. Inflammation is usually fueled by stress, high- fat diets or high body mass. Most times, inflammation in the blood stream is usually a sign that the body is trying to fight a kind of pathogen. Inflammation also increases glutamate in the brain and increases the chances of a person being depressed. When this inflammation becomes chronic, all attempts to treat depression become useless.
- Early life stress is a major risk factor for later depression. Adults who were abused or neglected as children are almost twice as likely to experience depression. The increased risk is associated with greater sensitivity of brain circuits involved in processing threat and fueling the stress response. Research suggests that exposure to neglect or abuse reduces activity the part of the brain (the ventral striatum) that processes rewarding experiences. This is likely to affect the capacity to experience enthusiasm, pleasure or other positive emotions.
What are the signs to look out for in depression?
An article on HelpGuide ” Teenager’s Guide to Depression” states that you should watch out for these things as a teenager;
- You constantly feel irritable, sad, or angry.
- Nothing seems fun anymore, and you just don’t see the point of trying.
- You feel bad about yourself—worthless, guilty, or just “wrong” in some way
- You sleep too much or not enough.
- You have frequent, unexplained headaches or other physical problems.
- Anything and everything makes you cry.
- You’ve gained or lost weight without consciously trying to.
- You just can’t concentrate. Your grades may be plummeting because of it.
- You feel helpless and hopeless.
- You’re thinking about death or suicide. (If this is true, talk to someone right away!)
However, I think they apply to millennials and adults too. We also experience symptoms of depression like this.
So, what 5 things should you do when you’re feeling blue? Well, these 5 things all have to do with some lifestyle changes that you have got to make. Another really helpful article on HelpGuide helps talks about some Lifestyle changes that can treat depression. They include;
“5. Exercise. Regular exercise can be as effective at treating depression as medication. Not only does exercise boost serotonin, endorphins, and other feel-good brain chemicals, it triggers the growth of new brain cells and connections, just like antidepressants do. Best of all, you don’t have to train for a marathon in order to reap the benefits. Even a half-hour daily walk can make a big difference. For maximum results, aim for 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic activity on most days.
4. Eat well. Eating well is important for both your physical and mental health. Eating small, well-balanced meals throughout the day will help you keep your energy up and minimize mood swings. While you may be drawn to sugary foods for the quick boost they provide, complex carbohydrates are a better choice. They’ll get you going without the all-too-soon sugar crash.
3. Sleep. Sleep has a strong effect on mood. When you don’t get enough sleep, your depression symptoms will be worse. Sleep deprivation exacerbates irritability, moodiness, sadness, and fatigue. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep each night. Very few people do well on less than seven hours a night. Aim for somewhere between seven to nine hours each night.
2. Social support. Strong social networks reduce isolation, a key risk factor for depression. Keep in regular contact with friends and family, or consider joining a class or group. Volunteering is a wonderful way to get social support and help others while also helping yourself.
1. Reduce stress. Make changes in your life to help manage and reduce stress. Too much stress exacerbates depression and puts you at risk for future depression. Take the aspects of your life that stress you out, such as work overload or unsupportive relationships, and find ways to minimize their impact”.
Finally, if you’re having suicidal thoughts, please CALL someone- a pastor, a friend, a counsellor or even the suicide helpline in your country. Your mind and life matter.
P.S: In case this helps, please don’t forget to share with someone…