About 4 in 10 Nigerian Women are Depressed, Says Psychologist


Dr Akin Gabriel, a clinical psychologist at the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Yaba, Lagos, says about 4 out of 10 Nigerian women are depressed.

He said depression is one of the many conditions associated with mental illness.

The psychologist explained that mental health is the ability required in humans to cope with life, including achieving potentials and goals, dealing with and overcoming stress, relating with people and overcoming life challenges.

Psychological functioning was an important aspect of wellbeing and part of mental health, but one that was easily neglected.

He emphasised that mental health issues could have negative impacts causing physical illnesses.

“In this country, out of 10 women, four will have one form of depression or the other,’’ he said.

Gabriel also said, about 25 per cent of depressed women eventually broke down and required treatment.

One of the ways individuals could know if their mental health was being affected was through self-observation.
He urged people to begin to question their mental wellbeing based on the subtle changes they identify in themselves.
“Humans will begin to observe the changes within themselves though they may not understand these changes.

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“When an individual realises that things he or she does with ease were getting difficult to be done or realise that situations they were able to easily manoeuvre about were becoming complex, they should begin to ask questions.
“When an individual begins to have strange feelings, responds spontaneously to situations without a thought; easy to anger, always on edge, misdirects aggression, something is wrong,’’ he said.

The psychologist added that other signs of depression might include issues with sleep, appetite, weight gain or loss, attitude to financial constraints and frequent ill health.
According to Gabriel, depression is a condition that affects a person’s thoughts and self-perception and is characterised by low moods, a crash in self-worth and self-degenerating feelings.

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“Depressed people think they have fallen short of assumed benchmark of achievements when they compare themselves with others, making them withdraw from people.

“Such people sometimes feel hopeless and unloved, leading to suicidal thoughts and actions,” he added.

Gabriel also said that changes in an individual with depression ranged from mild, moderate to severe with subtle symptoms that become more recognisable if not addressed.
“A depressed person may not dress like he or she used to, but still passable under mild depression.

“By moderate, others are beginning to notice some differences, the person is not looking as well kept as he used to be.

“Maybe the mood has dropped, the person is not as spontaneous as he or she used to be, there may be sleep issues, attention, focus, and appetite and weight issues.
“If not taken care of, the symptoms affect the daily life of the depressed person and everyone begins to notice because it affects relationships,’’ he said.

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Gabriel noted that fewer men get depressed, but they had more severe emotional and mood disorders.
He said cultural beliefs that men were supposed to be stronger and have the ability to forge ahead in spite of their circumstances caused many of them to suffer in silence.

He identified some signs to look out for, particularly in men, to include alcohol and substance use, staying out of the home longer and aggressiveness toward spouses and children.

Gabriel said depression could be treated if people with the condition sought help early.




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