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Depressed , Young and African

According to Health24,  Depression is a medical illness of which there are several forms. Everyone feels down or low at some point in life, but when the lows last for long periods and affect general functioning and behaviour, the person may be suffering from a Depressive Disorder.

Depression, which must be distinguished from sadness or “the blues”, is a relatively common and legitimate medical illness.

Although depression is defined as a disorder of mood, it affects more than just one’s mood and includes symptoms affecting the body (e.g. low energy, sexual dysfunction), thoughts (difficulty concentrating, indecisiveness) and feelings (depression, irritability).

Depression is a medical illness like high blood pressure, diabetes or heart problems and not a sign of personal weakness. Depression cannot be wished away, and sufferers cannot simply pull themselves together.

Causes

• Recent loss (of a loved one, a job, an income/ livelihood, a relationship, a pet)
• Major disappointment (failed exams, missed job promotions)
• Change in circumstances (separation/ divorce, retirement, redundancy, children leaving home)
• Mental disorder or physical illness/ injury
• Suicide of a family member, friend or a public figure
• Financial and/ or legal problems.Unemployment. Academic pressure
• Traumatic experience, Fire, Rape, Accident.

Life has taught me to be kind to everyone who crosses my path in life, never mind the smiles people are fighting severe life battles in silence. People look okay, but deep inside they are broken and need help.I battled depression between 2009 and 2014, many nights I wanted to take my own life, I struggled to sleep and concentrate on anything. My behaviour showed I was going through something but its hard opening up when you are depressed, and you don’t want to be a burden reason most people think suicide is the solution.Luckily I won the fight though Depression is a constant battle that keeps showing up now and then ,you can never entirely get rid of it you can only learn to live and deal with it.

On the 18th of October, I went on Twitter and asked my followers if any of them had thought or tried to take their own life. The results were shocking, after 7 076 votes more than 57% voted YES and 43% voted NO, with such a results I had to dig deeper to find out what was going on.

Two hours later I found out most young African people wanted to take their own lives due to different reasons the primary cause being depression/ mental illness. This led to me open my private messages allowing people to open up to me and let me share their stories on the timeline anonymously via a thread.

Most people especially women are still battling the trauma of rape from childhood, and they have been fighting depression all their life.Young boys are also victims of rape and sexual abuse by people they trust and wish they could protect them.

Unemployment is also one of the biggest source of depression amongst African, the need to be financially independent and help out in the family. It’s so sad we still have people who make unemployment jokes making it worse for those in this unfortunate situation.

African parents care more about their reputation in the community than the well being of their children, is hard for African child to open up about mental illness without being dismissed with lines like “You are too young to be depressed”,”depression is white people’s disease”, and if your parents are churchgoers they will tell you just to pray and blame evil spirits.

It’s even worse when you are a man, growing up we were told that men don’t cry which is why so many young African men suffer in silence and wear a happy face while going through the most.The suicide rate for young African men is very high. To my fellow African men, I just want to say its okay to cry please get help.

African parents must be accessible to their children and should be taught and understand mental health. I have always thought that I would rather text than call if its an emergency so the Depression Helplines must also have SMS lines rather than just.

If you are fighting depression you are not alone, don’t be ashamed to open up and seek help.

Here are a few helpful tips from  SADAG on how to be helpful to someone who is threatening Suicide

• Be direct. Talk openly and matter-of-factly about suicide.
• Be willing to listen. Allow expressions of feelings. Accept the feelings.
• Be non-judgmental. Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or whether feelings are good or bad. Don’t lecture on the value of life.
• Get involved. Become available. Show interest and support.
• Don’t dare him or her to do it.
• Don’t act shocked. This will put distance between you.
• Don’t be sworn to secrecy. Seek support.
• Offer hope that alternatives are available but do not offer glib reassurance.
• Ask if you may contact a family member
• Take action. Remove means, such as guns or stockpiled pills.
• Don’t leave them alone, get help from persons specializing in crisis intervention and suicide prevention.
• If necessary get in touch with the police

If you are in South Africa you can call the SOUTH AFRICAN DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY GROUP  to talk on behalf of a loved one, colleague, or friend.

Trained counsellors are there to help and refer you to local counsellors, facilities and Support Groups.

0800 21 22 23  (8am to 8pm)

0800 12 13 14  (8pm to 8am)

Or SMS 31393.

Time for Africa to prioritize mental illness and take measures to reduce suicide rates on the continent. Let us continue to have a conversation about Depression at home and workplaces, if you have helpful information feel free to leave it in the comments sections you could help a person or two and make a difference.

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1 Response

  1. Andile Mak
    Thank you for this man✊
    Our young men and women need this. They just too ashamed to come out. Let’s try to make the environment as comfortable and easy to have them open up and talk. I lost a friend to depression. I knew his struggles and was out of town when he succumbed to the pressure. Let’s help as many young and old as we can.

    #ivolunteer

    @Mak1803

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