I am not sure what the official statistics are as at today, but if we are to go by the reports we read in the news and the experiences of the people around us, I think it is safe to say depression may be on the rise in Nigeria.
According to health.harvard.edu, there are many possible causes of depression, including faulty mood regulation by the brain, genetic vulnerability, medications, and medical problems, also stress, grief or difficult life circumstances. It is believed these factors can act alone or interact to cause depression.
For this post I am going to focus on one of the major depression triggers in Nigeria, which is – difficult life circumstances.
If you live in Nigeria, you should not be surprised that many people are at the risk of depression due to continuing life difficulties – unemployment, injustice, insecurity, abuse, poverty, poor support, inability to meet social/cultural/religious expectations etc.
Many people are finding it difficult to hold on in the face of the uncertainties and hopelessness.
Will the situation of the country causing these difficulties change soon? I don’t know.
Are there things we can do to help our loved ones who are vulnerable to being depressed by these hardships before they go on a downward spiral? Absolutely!
Here is a short list. Please feel free to add more in the comment section.
Don’t Force People To “Move On”
We seem to always be in hurry to see people “move on” after a traumatic experience, we shut them down when they try to talk about it and we want them to just swallow it and go about life like the terrible event never happened. No, it is not right.
It is hard to find true healing for our emotional wounds if we keep trying to bury them instead of facing them and working our way through to healing. So many people we see and speak with everyday are carrying deep unhealed emotional wounds but they are afraid to confront it because people will say they have not moved on.
People heal at different paces, and in different ways, let them. Let them talk about it, let them cry about it, let them ask questions and try to make sense of it, let them write about it, let them seek justice if possible, let them seek professional help if they need to.
While it is good to encourage them to rise above it, you have to understand that it is essential they go through this process to find the strength they truly need.
Emotional traumas especially in a country like Nigeria where there are so many social ills yet inadequate psychological support, can leave many people more vulnerable to depression.
Listen When People Speak Up
When we read about suicide in the news, people are always so fast to ask why the victim didn’t speak up. But the real question we should be asking is, what happens when people that are depressed or suicidal summon the courage to speak to someone?
If a friend going through life challenges confides in you and you mock them and make them a topic for gossip, then you are part of the problem. If a friend talks to you and you shut them up by undermining their pain and telling them they are ungrateful to God, then you are part of the problem.
Speaking to the wrong person can set someone who is feeling depressed down a dangerous spiral faster than ever.
You may not be able to solve their problems, but you can listen with your heart, you can empathize, you can be the hand they hold and the soul they trust while they find their way out of the darkness.
Respect People’s Life Journeys
Life will happen for us in different ways at different times, no matter how hard we work or how fervent we pray, not everyone’s life will follow the same path.
We already know these things, but why do we conveniently forget this when we are belittling other people?
There is no one way to do this life. Live and let other people live. Not everyone will achieve some certain milestones at a certain age. Some will be later than others and some may not at all, especially in a country like Nigeria where there are so many odds stacked against you.
Some people you know are living the way they don’t want to because their choices and chances have been limited by Nigeria. No, it is not only about money.
When we judge people by what they wear, where they live, what they do, who they know, and what they have, we place a lot of pressure on people who are already at risk of depression due to life hardships.
There is a crisis of love in this country, it is happening right in our homes, neighborhoods, workplaces, places of worship, on social media, everywhere! We need a strong call to love. The many unfortunate situations in this country is making many people forget how to love, how to be kind, how to be compassionate.
There is so much peace you can bring to the people in your lives who are prone to depression through the transforming power of love.
Be patient. Be kind. Don’t be proud. Don’t dishonor others. Don’t delight in evil. Protect. Give.
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