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World Health Day 2017: Depression

By Nkem Egenuka on Fri, 07/04/2017 - 17:27

World Health Day is a health awareness day celebrated all over the world on 7 April, under the sponsorship of the World Health Organization (WHO). The focus for 2017 is ‘Depression’.

Depression is the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide. More than 300 million people are now living with depression, an increase of more than 18% between 2005 and 2015.

Fear of stigma and lack of support for people with depression, prevent many from accessing the treatment they need to live healthy lives. It is a common mental illness characterized by persistent sadness and a loss of interest in activities that people normally enjoy, accompanied by an inability to carry out daily activities, for 14 days or longer.

Dr Saxena says that“A better understanding of depression and how it can be treated, while essential, is just the beginning. What needs to follow is sustained scale-up of mental health services accessible to everyone, even the most remote populations in the world.”

The target for this year are adolescents and young adults, women of childbearing age (particularly following childbirth), and older adults (over 60s).

In Nigeria, a lot of people are depressed, which has resulted to the high increase in death rate. Richard Uwakwe, President of African Association of Psychiatry and Allied Professions, said that elderly persons in Nigeria are among those with the highest rates of depression in the world as a result of non-payment of pensions and other related factors.

What is depression?

According to Oxford Dictionary, depression is a mental condition characterized by feelings of severe despondency and dejection, typically also with feelings of inadequacy and guilt, often accompanied by lack of energy and disturbance of appetite and sleep.

Depression is an illness characterized by persistent sadness and a loss of interest in activities that you normally enjoy, accompanied by an inability to carry out daily activities, for at least two weeks. People that are depressed often suffer anxiety, hopelessness, restlessness, feelings of worthlessness, guilt, and thoughts of self-harm and eventually suicide.

Causes of Depression

There is no exact cause of depression, but circumstances can trigger it. They are:

  • Serious medical illness – The stress and worry of coping with a serious illness can lead to serious depression.
  • Personality – People that worry a lot or have low self-esteem stand a high risk of depression.
  • Loss of a Loved one: A person that losses his wife, husband, child, close friend, close relative may end up feeling depressed if not well handled.
  • Drug and alcohol use – excessive drug and alcohol use results from depression. Such people with depression also have drug and alcohol problems.
  • Other Causes of Depression: physical problems, health challenge, guilt, loss, unemployment, hardship and other personal factors are still likely to have an important influence.


Symptoms of depression

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Sadness
  • Irritability
  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Withdrawal from social activities
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Appetite changes
  • Thoughts of suicide


Types of Depression

There are several different types of depression, including:

  • Major depressive disorder
  • Melancholia
  • Psychotic Disorder
  • Antenatal and post-partum depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Cyclothymic disorder
  • Dysthymic disorder
  • chronic depression
  • Seasonal affective disorder
  • Psychotic depression
  • Bipolar depression



Recovery from depression differ from person to person. There is no proven way that works best for everyone. There are treatments like:

Psychological treatments

Medical treatments

Other sources of support like family and friends, relaxation trainings etc

Please, if you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of depression that has lasted for more than one or two weeks, see your health care provider for proper diagnosis and treatment.










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