• Blandina Malinzi

Let’s talk! Depression

Do you ever feel or wonder whether you are irritable or unhappy, and at times you want to just be left alone? You might not realize it but you might be experiencing depression at this moment.

For years, living in Tanzania, I always thought that depression is a foreign, western issue but as I grew older I learnt that depression occurs not only in western countries but affects people in my community too. In fact depression is not taken seriously in Africa, Tanzania in particular, we are always told to pray by our parents that it will go away and even alarming is that people see it as a taboo to talk about.

(Photo courtesy of pixabay)

Two weeks ago a story from a local paper, the Citizen had headlines of a sixteen year old that had committed suicide leaving behind a diary she had passed on to her close friend who then gave it to her mother. Most often victims of depression send out distress signals for help but as it turns out it may escape us or we tend ignore such a call.

According to Dr.Kaaya, Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health at MUHAS, an analysis of facility based data by diagnosis collected from 20 Regions in Tanzania from 2006-2007, showed that depression accounted for 7.5% of all reported (89,045) patients with mental disorders. So, yes – depression is a thing along with other mental disorders.

I recently sat down with a young lady named Rachel (not real name) whose father committed suicide when she was seven years old. She was told that her father had committed suicide at the age of thirteen

“I became depressed after finding out that my father killed himself, in my mind he didn’t even want to live for me? This affected me in my later years, in my school progress, and social skills. I got depressed and isolated myself from people, she says.(Photo courtesy of pixabay).

She continues, “When I was in boarding school and I attempted to commit suicide a couple of times, I was rushed to a hospital and I have had to change schools which affected my overall performance. But I managed to seek help and now receive therapy sessions on weekly basis. I have learnt to accept my father’s passing. I now do things that make me happy like write poems, walking, swimming, hang out with family and friends. I have also done some volunteering where I talk with youths; it has been helpful generally being around people”.

Depression is a disease that millions of people suffer from whose causes could range from lack of unemployment, domestic or sexual violence and abuse, post trauma depression (PTSD) and many more. (Image courtesy of google image).

In addition, Rachel urges parents to talk to their children, check on them, research on depression or any mental health issues that their child might be facing, check on how to prevent it and what to do about it. Be open with your child as it can make a whole difference.

She also pointed out for the government to offer assistance to communities and hospitals by creating feasible mental health services, training and hiring more nurses, counselors and doctors who will better in assisting and helping individuals.

Overcoming depression can be a difficult process and talking about makes is even more worse but a network of trusted friends and family members is the way out of a such a dark situation. Opening up about depression does not imply your weak rather that you acknowledge your sickness and are willing to seek help. This is a step towards the right direction. (Image courtesy of google images).

“My passion has always been to help people dealing with depression, so that they can overcome their battles and demons. Thanks to my lovely family and friends, I have overcome mine. I am still a work in progress, still going to therapy, writing poems but I am still standing strong”, she says.

Rachel is now pursuing her bachelor degree in Psychology, something she loves as she has always wanted to help people.

Tips to help you overcome depression

  • Talk to someone about your feelings

  • Help someone else by volunteering

  • Have lunch or coffee with a friend

  • Meet new people by taking a class or joining a club

  • Confide in a clergy member, teacher, or sports coach

  • Accompany someone to the movies, a concert, or a small get-together

  • Call or email an old friend

  • Go for a walk with a workout buddy

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