Many Africans still view depression as a “White man’s illness”. This to an extent fuels the culture of silence, where victims of depression would not even speak about their diagnosis or seek medical help.
Sadly, everyone goes through times of deep sadness and grief and we cannot “africanise” it away . These feelings usually fade away within a few days or weeks, depending on the circumstances. But severe sadness that lasts more than two weeks and affects your ability to function may be a sign of depression.
Here are some of the common forms depression manifest:
1. Persistent Depressive Disorder: This is a chronic form of depression and from the name ‘persistent’, this particular over stays as long as two years. It’s effect could be mild or severe, during this period, one could have a few months of no symptoms. Some of the symptoms here would include; anger, irritability, loss of appetite, guilty feeling, sleeping too much. Medications and psychotherapy would go a long way in treating this.
2. Bipolar Disorder: This form of mood disorder is usually associated with abnormally elevated moods and it could be mild or severe enough to require hospitalisation. It affects a person’s sense of reality, leaving you very emotional. Other symptoms of this disorder would include; fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, hopelessness, indecision and disorganisation. People with this are easily prone to suicide.
3. Postpartum Depression: Pregnancy could bring about hormonal shifts which can affect a woman’s mood. Depression here could begin from the onset of the pregnancy or after the birth of the child. Symptoms usually associated with this includes; severe mood swings, social withdrawal, sadness, suicidal thoughts or feelings towards hurting your child, trouble bonding with the baby. Treatments can be done with antidepressants, counselling and hormone therapy. If this is not treated, it could last up to a year.
4. Seasonal Affective Disorders: If you happen to be one who experiences weight gain, sleepiness, depression or mood swings at a particular season, maybe during the rainy season, but feel very alright during the dry season, you may have this particular type of disorder with seasonal patterns. This is caused by a disturbance in the normal functioning rhythm of the body due to maybe a distortion in the amount of light entering the eyes at that particular season or weirdly a sudden change in day and night patterns. It is a pretty rare form of depression.
Depression affects everyone differently, and you might only have some of these symptoms. You may also have other symptoms that aren’t listed here. Keep in mind that it’s also normal to have some of these symptoms from time to time without having depression.