Depression is a serious mental health condition that can significantly impact a person’s well-being, relationships, and quality of life. There have been reports in Nigeria of celebrities like the late Nigerian footballer, Rashidi Yekini, that experienced mental health issues towards the end of his life. Similarly, it has been widely documented that legendary Nigerian musician, Majek Fashek, struggled with mental health and addiction throughout his life.
Additionally, there are also accounts of everyday Nigerians who have suffered from depression and even taken their own lives due to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.
In spite of this worrisome reports, unfortunately, there is still a growing common misconception amongst Nigerians that depression is not real.
In this essay, we will highlight the reality of depression and discuss 10 ways that individuals can prioritize their mental health and self-care.
Firstly, depression is a real and debilitating illness that affects millions of people worldwide. It is not a sign of weakness or a lack of willpower, but rather a complex disorder caused by various genetic, biological, environmental, economical, and psychological factors.
Secondly, depression can manifest differently in different individuals, but the most common symptoms include persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, guilt, fatigue, loss of interest in activities, and difficulty sleeping or concentrating.
Thirdly, awful economic policies of government can lead to the impoverishment of the citizens, and poverty is a complex and multifaceted issue that can have a significant impact on the mental health of individuals experiencing it. The stress and uncertainty of living in poverty, coupled with limited access to resources, can create a sense of hopelessness and helplessness that can contribute to feelings of depression.
Economic hardship can also lead to social isolation and a sense of shame or stigma, which can further exacerbate symptoms of depression. Additionally, poverty often comes with a lack of access to proper healthcare and treatment, which can prevent individuals from receiving the support they need to manage their mental health.
Fourthly, it is important for Nigerians to recognize that depression is not uncommon, and seeking professional help is nothing to be ashamed of. It is critical to consult with a mental health professional to receive a proper diagnosis and personalized treatment plan, which may include therapy, medication, or a combination of both. It is crucial to prioritize your mental health, just as you would your physical health.
Here are ten ways that Nigerians can prioritize their mental health and practice self-care:
- Practice mindfulness — Set aside some time each day for meditation or mindfulness exercises to help reduce stress and improve your overall well-being.
- Stay physically active — Exercise is an excellent way to boost your mood, reduce stress, and maintain good mental health.
- Eat a balanced and healthy diet —Include foods that are rich in nutrients and avoid processed foods, which can negatively impact your mood.
- Get enough sleep — Lack of sleep can increase the risk of depression and worsen existing symptoms. Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
- Build supportive relationships — Surround yourself with positive influencers who support and uplift you.
- Engage in activities that bring you joy — Nigerians are hardworking people, but it is important to engage in activities that bring you happiness and relaxation.
- Set realistic goals — Break down your goals into smaller and achievable objectives which will boost your confidence and self-esteem
- Avoid drugs and alcohol — Drugs and alcohol can make depression worse and may lead to addiction.
- Seek help if needed — If you’re struggling with depression or experiencing sever mood swings, suicidal thoughts or tendencies, do not hesitate to seek help from a licensed medical professional.
- Prioritize one’s well-being — Putting yourself first may be difficult but paramount to your mental health and should not be ignored.
In conclusion, depression is real, and it affects millions of people worldwide, including Nigerians. Although cultural beliefs may undermine the severity of depression, it is important for individuals to prioritize their mental health and self-care.
Practicing mindfulness, staying physically active, eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, building supportive relationships, indulging in pleasurable activities, setting realistic goals, avoiding drugs and alcohol, seeking help when needed, and prioritizing self-care are practical ways that individuals can protect their mental health and emotional well-being. Mental health matters; seek help when needed and prioritize your well-being.