Depression In Adolescents
Is She Persistently Anxious And Sad?
For the past three weeks, she has been having difficulty in falling asleep. When she eventually does, she finds it difficult to wake up early. She feels restless and she finds it difficult to concentrate on her studies. Nusaybah is just 20 years old studying Economics in one of the Nigerian universities.
During tests, it’s difficult to remember the little she had read and she can’t seem to make the simplest decisions. She doesn’t derive pleasure in her career aspirations anymore and It takes forever for her to get to class because she walks so slow. Her friend, Toju, noticed that she had lost a considerable amount of weight and she wasn’t eating well at the cafeteria. Nusaybah constantly feels guilty, pessimistic about life and she thinks suicide could be the best option.
What do you think is wrong with her?
Your thought is as good as mine. Nusaybah is exhibiting signs of depression. Depression is the most common type of mental illness. According to the World Health Organization, more than 300 million people are affected globally. Every year, there are more than 1.5 million cases in Nigeria. Depression can lead to disability and suicide, at it’s worst. The number and level of symptoms a person exhibits determines the severity of his/her case – from mild, moderate or severe.
In order to be diagnosed with depression, a person needs to have been exhibiting the symptoms for at least two weeks. This differentiates depression from the occasional mood swings we all get once in a while. Depression can last on an average of 6 to 8 months.
One quick solution is to encourage those we know are down with depression to seek treatment. Not everyone can simply shake off depression and return to their normal self. Depression is a serious medical condition. If it goes untreated, such a person can have several relapses and can eventually commit suicide.
Depression comes in different types – dysthymia, psychotic depression, seasonal affective depression, bipolar affective disorder. For her, it is important to take a very close look at the following types of depression.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD): Most people are familiar with the term “PMS” or premenstrual syndrome. Moodiness and irritability in the weeks before menstruation are quite common and the symptoms are usually mild. But there is a less common, more severe form of PMS called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). PMDD is a serious condition with disabling symptoms such as irritability, anger, depressed mood, sadness, suicidal thoughts, appetite changes, bloating, breast tenderness, and joint or muscle pain.
Perinatal or postpartum depression: Being pregnant isn’t easy. Pregnant women commonly deal with morning sickness, weight gain, and mood swings. Caring for a newborn is challenging too. Many new moms experience the “baby blues”—a term used to describe feelings of worry, unhappiness, mood swings, and fatigue. These feelings are usually somewhat mild, last a week or two, and then go away as a new mom adjusts to having a newborn. Perinatal depression is depression during or after (postpartum) pregnancy. Perinatal depression is much more serious than the “baby blues.” The feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion that accompany perinatal depression may make it difficult to complete daily care activities for a new mom and/or her baby. If you think you have perinatal depression, you should talk to your doctor or a trained mental health care professional. If you see any signs of depression in a loved one during her pregnancy or after the child is born, encourage her to see a health care provider or visit a clinic.
Perimenopausal depression: Perimenopause (the transition into menopause) is a normal phase in a woman’s life that can sometimes be challenging. If you are going through perimenopause, you might be experiencing abnormal periods, problems sleeping, mood swings, and hot flashes. But it is a myth that it is “normal” to feel depressed. If you are struggling with irritability, anxiety, sadness, or loss of enjoyment at the time of the menopause transition, you may be experiencing perimenopausal depression.
We will like to help. If you or anyone you know suffers from depression, kindly reach us for referrals.
For more on depression refer to
National Institute of Mental Health
College of Medicine, University of Ibadan
World Health Organisation
Medical News Today