Depression: The silent killer of the 21st century - panic attacks young girl in sad and fear stressful depressed emotional
panic attacks young girl in sad and fear stressful depressed emotional

The reported cases of depression have greatly increased over time as the suicidal rate is on an alarming increase.

Recently, a study carried out by the world bank showed that about 22% of the Nigerian population suffer from chronic depression.

The word depression has been dancing on the lips of many individuals both on social media and in reality, but what is the true meaning of depression?

Depression is an illness that affects both the brain and the mind. It affects the way a person feels, thinks and behaves. Unfortunately, unlike physical illnesses, there are no specific bodily symptoms to identify depression.

In some extreme cases that lead to suicide, some of the individuals look happy and satisfied prior to their deaths. Recently, a Nigerian Disk Jockey popularly known as DJ Xgee took his own life and before his death, he still performed at shows during the festive period.

Depression: The silent killer of the 21st century - Black guy stressing and headache
Black guy stressing and headache

Apparently, it does not suffice to be popular or be rich to escape the clutches of depression. Countless celebrities have committed suicide as a result of depression and they seemed so happy and fulfilled during their lifetime.

In 2014, the popular actor Robin Williams took his own life. It is ironic and sad that he was a comedian who brought smiles to the faces of people and deep down he was not happy.

Another popular Actress, Marilyn Monroe, took her own life due to a scandal that spread like wildfire due to her popularity and fame.

Also, Chris Benoit the WWE star who strangled his wife and 7year old son. I remember watching some of his fights in the ring while growing up.

Depression: The silent killer of the 21st century - Depressed young man sitting after using different types of drugs, drug overdose.
Depressed young man sitting after using different types of drugs, drug overdose.

Just last year the twitter community went agog after a popular rapper, Mac Miller took his own life and fingers were pointed to the ex-girlfriend.

Not to digress, all these people had successful careers and seemed happy and this makes it difficult to easily spot people suffering from depression.

Depression is not bound by age, sex, or class. Over time, depression has been overlooked by society as there is little awareness of it.

A lot of people suffering from depression have refused to speak out due to the fear of being labeled weak or stigmatized by the unforgiving society. Fortunately, people are becoming more conscious of their mental health and well-being.

As mentioned earlier, there are no bodily symptoms to identify depression but there are warning signs that can help in detecting depression, they include;

Depression: The silent killer of the 21st century -  Top view on youths talking to a therapist while sitting in a circle during meeting
Depressed Youths talking to a therapist while sitting in a circle during meeting

Sadness

This is one of the easiest ways to detect depression. Although, one might feel sad occasionally, but when sadness is accompanied by despair, feelings of emptiness and positive thoughts are elusive, one might be depressed. In some cases, one might even start crying for no obvious reason.

Loss of energy and interest

You might feel tired and slow every time if you’re suffering from depression. You can also lose interest in the things you like to do like sports, sex and activities that involve interacting with people. In some cases, avoiding responsibility and neglecting personal hygiene can also indicate that one is depressed.

Changes in sleep Pattern

Inability to fall asleep, waking a long time before the morning time or sleeping for prolonged periods of time without having sleep deficits can mean one has depression.

Depression: The silent killer of the 21st century - Depressed woman
Depressed woman

Changes in Appetite

This affects people differently. Some individuals lose interest in food thereby losing weight rapidly while some individuals have increased affection for food to compensate feelings of depression and this results in weight gain.

Self Esteem

People with chronic depression may have a strong feeling of worthlessness and low self-confidence.

Extreme Behavioural Changes

You might start to get easily irritated or feel angry over little things. Aggression and recklessness are also common among individuals who are severely depressed.

Depression: The silent killer of the 21st century - Depressed Veteran Sits In A Wheelchair With Pills
Depressed Veteran Sits In A Wheelchair With Pills

Mental Symptoms

Quick loss of concentration, inability to make decisions or having difficulty remembering details could indicate that you are suffering from depression. If you suddenly notice that you are becoming slow in processing thoughts and ideas, it could also mean you’re suffering from depression. Depressed people also tend to get lost in thoughts and seem to wander off in their minds.

Physical Symptoms

Depression sometimes can be accompanied by body aches, pains and headaches which seem not to have a medical cause and still persist after treatment.

Alcohol and Drug abuse

Depressed people tend to turn to drugs and alcohol. This gives them a quick fix and takes away their minds from their problems for a short moment. Sometimes this can result into drug overdose.

Depression: The silent killer of the 21st century - Depression, drug abuse and addiction people concept - unhappy drunk man
Depression, drug abuse and addiction people concept – unhappy drunk man

Suicidal Thoughts

This is the ultimate symptom of depression. If you are having continuous thoughts of harming yourself, this is a sure indicator of depression. At this point, one should get help as soon as possible.

Strangely, there is no exact cause of depression but it can be triggered by different things. Depression can set in when one loses a close family relation or friend or someone that is dear.

Also, people develop depression after or during Chronic medical illnesses. Some of these illnesses include diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, kidney disease, HIV/AIDS, lupus and multiple sclerosis.

Women often experience depression after childbirth (Postpartum depression) and this can also lead to suicidal thoughts.

Some families also have a medical history of depression as research has shown that there is a possible connection between the genes and depression.

There factors that have a possibility of increasing the risk of depression and these include:

Personal conflict

Depression risk is increased when there is a conflict with family or friends. In the case of the Nigerian Disk Jockey DJ Xgee, it is rumored that he had disputes with his family before taking his life.

Depression: The silent killer of the 21st century - Depression and anxiety of a woman in fatal position on the sofa
Depression and anxiety of a woman in fatal position on the sofa

Grief

The death of a loved one can increase the risk of an individual plunging into a depression feat.

Abuse

The trauma experienced from past or present physical, sexual or emotional abuse can increase one’s vulnerability to depression.

Medication and Substance Abuse

Certain drugs can increase the risk of having depression. Drugs like Isotretinoin, Lariam, Chantix, Inderal, Contraceptives, Corticosteroids, Interferon-beta, Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase, and Vigabatrin can all increase the risk of depression.

Abuse of drugs or alcohol can lead to addiction which can equally increase the risk of depression.

Depression: The silent killer of the 21st century - Depressed young man at internet cafe scene, Conceptual game addiction, social problem
Depressed young man at internet cafe scene, Conceptual game addiction, social problem

Inherited genes

Individuals that come from families that have a medical history of depression are also vulnerable to depression.

Major events and changes in lifestyle

Events like changing jobs, marriage, moving to a new environment, losing one’s job, break ups and divorce can increase the risk of depression.

TREATMENTS

Treatments for depression differ for people due to the fact that people have different depression causes or triggers.

For some individuals, taking medication helps while some people have to go through lifestyle changes to battle depression.

Drugs commonly used to treat depression include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), antidepressants, anxiolytic and antipsychotic.

Lifestyle changes that are commonly used to treat depression include regular exercise, social support, nutrition, sleep and reduction of stress.

Depression is not something to be taken lightly. The next time you step out and you notice a change in a friend’s mood, talk to the person as you might be saving a life. As the saying goes, a problem shared is half solved.

The very first step is to speak out and admit that one is depressed. Then you can proceed to see a doctor to help out and guide one towards the proper form of treatment.

It is also important to note that comparison kills.

People only show their seemingly perfect lives on the internet and they never show you the part filled with dirt, murk and ugliness.

It is important to strive to be at your best but it is “importanter” not to compare your life with others.

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