Suicide has become more rampant in Nigeria. But that’s not what scares me. I’m terrified that many still think that ‘suicide is not Nigerian’. I wasn’t even aware suicide had a nationality in the first place. It’s the same way we say Nigerians CAN’T get depressed. Well, news flash; “more and more Nigerians are jumping into the lagoon. And those who have no lagoon close by choose less spectacular doorways out of existence.”

It’s not unusual to find many young people complaining about boredom these days (we at least agree that Nigerians CAN get bored). But it was only recently that I read about the connection between boredom and depression. Experts have long since come to the realisation that while boredom might not necessarily lead to depression, it can in fact trigger, or be symptomatic of depression.

Here’s an insight on boredom, by Kirsten Weir (2013), that I find quite interesting. Take a peek:

Boredom is a universal experience, yet until recently researchers didn’t have a go-to definition of the condition. Psychologist John Eastwood, PhD, of York University in Toronto, decided that was a good place to start. He and his colleagues…interviewed hundreds of people about what it feels like to experience that tedious state. They concluded that boredom is best described in terms of attention.”

Hence, “A bored person doesn’t just have nothing to do. He or she wants to be stimulated, but is unable, for whatever reason, to connect with his or her environment — a state Eastwood describes as an ‘unengaged mind’ (Perspectives on Psychological Science, 2012).

The very fact that boredom is a concern amongst psychologists and psychiatrists suggests that it could be a mental disorder. While it’s normal to feel bored or sad now and then, there’s reason to be worried when boredom becomes part of everyday life for weeks unending. It might be a sign that one has clinical depression.

Experts say that depression is different from usual mood swings and transient emotional responses to daily challenges. It may become a serious health condition when it’s long-lasting, and can cause the affected person to suffer greatly and function poorly at work, at school and in the family.

After reading the article on depression by Chioma Obinna on the Vanguard Newspaper of Tuesday, May 30, 2017, I realised that the situation is a lot more complex than we’re letting on. According to that article, 7 Million Nigerians are DEPRESSED. Can you imagine that?

Furthermore, “according to the World Health Organisation, WHO, there are 322 million people living with depression in the world. In the WHO suicide ranking, Nigeria, with 15.1 suicides per 100,000 population per year, is ranked the 30th most suicide-prone out of 183 nations in the world. Nigeria also rates 10th in Africa after countries with higher rates of suicide such as Togo (ranked 26th in the world), Burkina Faso (22nd), Cameroun (19th) Zimbabwe (16th), Central African Republic (13th), Sierra Leone (11th), Angola (9th), Equatorial Guinea (7th), and Cote D’Ívoire (5th) (cf. Vanguard News).

There are immediate symptoms to watch out for when dealing with depressed persons. These include:

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in one’s activities.
  • Weight loss or gain.
  • Trouble getting to sleep or feeling sleepy during the day.
  • Feeling restless and agitated, or very sluggish and slowed down physically or mentally.
  • Being tired and without energy.
  • Feeling worthless or guilty.
  • Trouble concentrating or making decisions.
  • Thoughts of suicide.

Types of depression include:

  • Major Depression
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
  • Psychotic Depression
  • Peripartum (Postpartum) Depression
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
  • Situational’ Depression

What’s the way forward?

One who has symptoms of depression needs to go see a doctor. It’s the responsibility of the medical doctor to prescribe talk therapies, or offer the option of medications, depending on the severity of each case.

Unfortunately, the President of Society of Family Physicians of Nigeria, SOFPON, Lagos Zone, Dr. Blessing Chukwukwelu observes that “In Nigeria, only one-fifth of those with a depressive episode receive any treatment, and only one in 50 receive treatment that is minimally adequate.” Which is why “there is the need for medical practitioners who see various cases of ailment at the Primary Health Centres to be trained on how to identify the symptoms of depression, “she concludes.

Are you always bored? Do you know someone expressing two or more of the symptoms listed above? It’s not a crime to seek help, even when you’re not too sure what you’re dealing with. As they say, “provision store is better than Kiosk”.

It’s our collective responsibility to ease the menace of depression in the Nation, as well as help rescue the many who may right now be considering suicide.

If you’re with me say, “AYE!”

© Oselumhense Anetor, 2017.

Image Credit@PIXABAY