Sunday, February 10, 2008

Reflections (2)

I've been racking my brain for the past 2 weeks thinking of what to write about in the "Reflections" series and decided to tell y'all about a research my classmate and I did last year for our Business Studies Project. Initially, when I did the research, I was so freaked out because I thought I suffered from it till some friends told me I must be silly.

OK... enough of the prologue. Can y'all guess what I'm about to talk about?


Before I begin, people... this is not plagiarism ok. I have given honour to whom honour is due in the presentation! Send me a mail if you want the references.

Simply put, depression is a feeling of severe unhappiness and dejection. There are 3 types:

• Reactive Depression which is simply an extension of the normal upset feeling caused by an unhappy event in a person’s life such as death, marriage, etc.

• Unipolar or Endogenous Depression: primarily a biological or inherited condition usually provoked by a form of disappointment.

• Bipolar Disorder or Manic Depressive Illness: Now this is the scary one. It is similar to Unipolar Depression EXCEPT the person also experiences episodes of elation or mania (severe highs), with which the depression (severe lows) alternates.

Although feelings of elation, such as bursts of energy and enthusiasm may seem pleasurable in the short-term, it often has devastating effects in the long-term.

Unipolar and Bipolar Depression are usually called Clinical Depression.
The common symptoms of depressive / manic episodes (of Bipolar Depression) are usually described with the acronym FESTIVAL:

•Feeling – sad, depressed, anxious or bored / elated, enthusiastic, excited, angry, irritable.

•Energy – fatigued, slow movements, everything is an effort / great energy, “never felt as well”, over-talkative or over-active.

•Sleep – waking up during the night, insomnia or over-sleeping / reduced need for sleep and marked difficulty in getting off to sleep.

•Thinking – slow thinking, poor concentration, forgetful or indecisive / racing thoughts, pressure in the head, indecisive, jumping from one topic to another, poor concentration.

•Interest – loss of interest in food, work, sex and life seems dull / increased interest in pleasurable activities, new adventures, sex, alcohol, street drugs, religion, art or music.

•Value – reduced sense of self worth, low self esteem or guilt / excessive and unrealistic belief in one’s ability or having grandiose plans.

•Aches – headaches, chest or other pains without a physical basis / never tiring, being unaware of the physical symptoms of illness such as asthma, having muscle tension at the back of the head or round the shoulders.

•Live – not wanting to live, suicidal thoughts or thoughts of death / thinking that one can live forever, taking reckless risks or, if angry or distressed, feeling suicidal.

Scary eh? If 5 or more of the symptoms depressive and/or manic episodes are present for more than 2 weeks, PLEASE seek professional medical attention!


- women are twice as likely as men to be diagnosed and treated for major depression. I wonder why?

- depression worsens with age, i.e. the older you become, the more likely you are to get depressed.

- costs of depression is higher than that of hypertension and back problems and comparable to that of heart disease. In fact, people with depression have more sick days than people suffering from other conditions.

- it is a high risk factor for heart disease, high blood cholesterol level, high blood pressure, chronically elevated levels of stress hormones, stroke and low levels of day-to-day functioning.

We all know what can cause depression so I'll just skip that. BUT why do people not seek treatment? Simple. People are either in denial, are ashamed to admit it or are scared of the stigma employees feel may be associated with the diagnosis and the fear of the effect it will have on their jobs and concerns about confidentiality. It is important for employers and colleagues to be smart about depression by recognizing it as an illness and not a personality flaw.

What can we all do to manage depression and help sufferers?

Learn how to recognize the disease by paying attention to morale, absenteeism, dramatic mood swings and low productivity AND reach out to sufferers by having private talks and empathizing with them.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE take threats seriously by being vigilant to an employee’s cry for help, e.g. comments like “I want to die” may be more serious than you think.

PEOPLE Depression is a silent killer.

Sufferes resort to vices such as cigarette, alcohol, drug and sex abuse to help cope with the disease. Others resort to suicide! Remember Kurt Cobain of Nirvana? And many other celebrities who slash their wrists?
What we can do to help fight this disease?

• Encourage sufferers to seek professional medical treatment and help them through the treatment.
• Smile at people, even strangers. Remember that a smile not only helps keep you younger, but can also help save a life.
• Offer a helping hand, even when it’s not needed. Do y'all recall:

- an internet chain letter about a 9-year old boy who was on his way home to commit suicide but changed his mind when a boy from school offered to help carry his books;
- the movie “What Women Want” about the “invisible” suicidal office girl who was finally appreciated by her boss.

• Be friendly to people. It doesn’t hurt to have a 5 minute conversation with people.
• Encourage sufferers to mix with people and invite them to socialize with you as most depressive states are compounded in periods of isolation.

Personally, I think the most important treatment of all is a hand of friendship….


Bunmmy said...

hi..first time here and nice write naija things like this are ignored

Toochi said...

1st time coming....been a while. how you doing?

Adorable said...


i like your ideal ideas on how to help people with depression. You may alleviate their depression for a few seconds but you won't be there all the time to get them out of it completely or help them get professional help.
That's what depresses me. (pun intended) lol.