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Understanding Clinical Depression

The word depression stems from the Latin verb, deprimere meaning to “press down.” Despite this, it goes beyond pressing down. Contrary to popular opinion, not all feelings of sadness is depression. Depression is triggered by the chemical imbalance in neurotransmitters in the brain. This results in persistent bouts of sadness, sleeping disorder among others.

Clinical depression, a severe form of depression, is defined by the United States National Institute of Mental Health (NIHM), “Depression (major depressive disorder or clinical depression) is a common but serious mood disorder that causes severe symptoms which can affect how you feel, think and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating or working.”


Some of these symptoms include:

  • Anger
  • Pessimism
  • Frustration
  • Irritability and restlessness
  • Feelings of guilt and worthlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Difficulty in sleeping
  • Feelings of tiredness
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Eating disorder

For one to be diagnosed with clinical depression, its symptoms must have been occurring for at least two weeks.
Research reveals that there are certain factors contribute to the onset of depression, including genetics, changes in hormone levels, illnesses such as liver disease, stress, grief or difficult life circumstances.

Contrary to the belief that it is a white man’s illness and a spiritual attack, the World Health Organisation (WHO), in 2017, revealed that Nigeria is the leading country with the highest number of heads of households exhibiting depressive symptoms, in Africa with about 22%. However, there is hope for those suffering from this illness.

Once you can identify some of these symptoms, consult a doctor. Fortunately, depression can be treated via medications, psychotherapy or, in severe cases, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).

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