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Beating Depression in a Resilient Nigerian Economy

Depression is an invisible burden that has affected countless individuals worldwide, impacting their personal lives, work, academics, and businesses.

In recent times, Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, has experienced a complex interplay of economic hardship, political instability, and social unrest, exacerbating the burden of depression among its citizens. Amid this challenging environment, resilience and adaptability are key to managing depressive symptoms and maintaining psychological health.

Practical strategies for managing depression as individuals is necessary to navigate the everyday pressures of the Nigerian economic situation. Weaving in evidence from reputable scientific sources, it will inspire hope and encourage individuals to seek help and build a robust support system.

Understanding Depression

Depression is a common but severe mental health disorder, characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, loss of interest in activities, and difficulty performing daily tasks. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than 264 million people worldwide suffer from depression[1].

In Nigeria, the prevalence of depression ranges from 10-30%, influenced by factors like economic hardship, educational level, and gender[2]. This high prevalence is particularly alarming, considering the cultural stigma attached to mental health in Nigeria[3].

Impact of Economic Instability

The economic situation in Nigeria has, in recent years, become increasingly challenging, with high inflation, growing unemployment, and a decline in per capita income[4]. These economic conditions have been found to increase levels of depression and anxiety among Nigerians[5].

Economic hardship not only limits access to basic necessities but also restricts access to mental health care.

This makes it more difficult for individuals to manage depression and other mental health issues.

Managing Depression in Everyday Life

Despite these challenges, managing depression in everyday life is possible, and every new week presents an opportunity to make positive changes. Here are some strategies:

1. Seek Professional Help: Depression is a serious illness and requires professional intervention. Psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health professionals can provide psychotherapy or medications as needed[6]. In Nigeria, organizations like Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative (MANI) offer mental health services and resources[7].

2. Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques: Mindfulness practices such as meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises can help manage depression. A study by Johns Hopkins University found that meditation can have a similar effect to antidepressants on symptoms of depression[8].

3. Physical Activity: Regular physical activity can have a powerful antidepressant effect. Exercise promotes the release of endorphins, known as "feel-good" hormones, which can alleviate symptoms of depression[9].

4. Build a Support Network: In the face of economic hardship, a strong support network can be invaluable. This could include family, friends, or support groups. Connecting with others helps to reduce feelings of isolation, a common experience in depression[10].

5. Proper Nutrition: There is increasing evidence linking diet to mental health. Consuming a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains can improve mood and energy levels[11].

6. Develop Healthy Sleep Habits: Sleep disorders are common in depression. Creating a regular sleep schedule, reducing screen time before bed, and creating a peaceful sleep environment can improve sleep quality[12].

Depression, while serious, is a manageable condition. Despite the economic hardships faced in Nigeria, it is essential to remember that there are strategies and resources available to help manage depression. Every new week is a chance to implement these techniques and to seek help when needed. Remember, it is not a sign of weakness to ask for help, but rather a sign of strength and resilience.


[^1^]: World Health Organization. (2020). Depression.

[^2^]: Adewuya, A. O., Ola, B. A., & Afolabi, O. O. (2006). Validity of the patient health questionnaire (PHQ-9) as a screening tool for depression amongst Nigerian university students. Journal of affective disorders, 96(1-2), 89-93.

[^3^]: Gureje, O., Lasebikan, V. O., Ephraim-Oluwanuga, O., Olley, B. O., & Kola, L. (2005). Community study of knowledge of and attitude to mental illness in Nigeria. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 186(5), 436-441.

[^4^]: International Monetary Fund. (2021). Nigeria.

[^5^]: Abdulkareem, A. A., Mokuolu, B. O., & Balogun, W. O. (2013). The Effect of Economic Recession on the Incidence and Management of Major Depressive Disorder. Annals of Nigerian Medicine, 7(1), 9-15.

[^6^]: American Psychiatric Association. (2020). What is depression?

[^7^]: Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative. (2021).

[^8^]: Johns Hopkins Medicine. (2014). Meditation for Anxiety and Depression?

[^9^]: Harvard Health Publishing. (2018). Exercise is an all-natural treatment to fight depression.

[^10^]: Mayo Clinic. (2020). Depression and anxiety: Exercise eases symptoms.

[^11^]: Jacka, F. N., O’Neil, A., Opie, R., Itsiopoulos, C., Cotton, S., Mohebbi, M., ... & McGrath, J. (2017). A randomised controlled trial of dietary improvement for adults with major depression (the ‘SMILES’ trial). BMC medicine, 15(1), 1-13.

[^12^]: Harvard Medical School. (2019). Sleep and mental health.


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