By: Jacob Owusu Sarfo, Clinical Psychologist, Ghana Health Service, Eastern Region
Depression among young people is quite complex and vary widely from one young person to the other. The effect of depression on young people is very debilitating from the cases I’ve seen. It affects their general quality of life. Young people can suffer physically, psychologically and even socially when affected with depression.
One negative and extreme effect of depression is Suicide. In recent years, suicide among young people is becoming quite frequent. This is because young people suffering from depression tend to lack the restraint and emotional strength to deal with it. To make matters worse, they are unable to open up about the issues they are dealing with. That is why we must all be vigilant to identify the signs of depression among young people and help them find help as soon as possible.
Since it is difficult to isolate a single known cause of depression, I will talk about 14 major risk factors that can predispose young people to hhavedepression.
- Causes of depression among young people
These risk factors may include;
- Broken relationships or friendships, especially the romantic ones
- Various forms of abuse like rape, neglect etc.
- Failure in examination
- Substance abuse
- Some medications
- Chronic health conditions or disabilities
- Broken homes
- Illness or death of a family member, friend or pet
- Loss of job
- Fluctuations in hormone levels
– How to identify depression in a young person
To identify depression in a young person, you ought to be very observant as a lay person as it can mimic someone who is sad or ‘just down.’
20 things to look out for may include the following;
- Early awakening or excess sleepiness or insomnia
- Excessive crying
- Excessive hunger or loss of appetite
- Feeling anxious
- General discontent
- Lack of concentration
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
- Mood swings
- Slowness in activity
- Social isolation
- Suicidal thoughts
- Weight gain or weight loss
– Steps to dealing with depression
After appropriate steps have been followed by psychologists, psychiatrists and mental health nurses to diagnose depression clinically, psychotherapy and medication are employed either alone or in combination to manage depression in Ghana.
For families and friends who want to help a young person to heal, you have to first of all understand what the person with depression is going through. You talk with the young person to encourage them to be positive and realistic with their expectations.
You can also encourage physical activities and engage the young person who is dealing with depression to take part in satisfying social activities. This will help stop the depressed mind from wandering off into negative feelings, actions and thoughts. In addition, if there is a known risk factor that can be improved or solved like getting a job for the unemployed or paying for debt etc., families and friends can assist in such areas. Simply said, we should be there for such a person.
– We need to pay more attention to psychological problems
Permit me to talk about Ghana as I want to be circumspect with my case. In my estimation, we give little attention to psychological problems as a country compared to other physical health problems.Culturally, mental illnesses are stigmatised and seen as a ‘curse’ rather than any other health condition. These cultural beliefs affect the mental health seeking behaviour of those suffering from psychological troubles and their future prognosis.
The Mental Health Authority and mental health institutions sometimes lack adequate funding to promote mental health in Ghana. There are inadequate mental health personnel like psychologists, psychiatrists, mental health nurses in our country. Those who have been employed too enjoy poor remuneration and high risk for occupational hazards.There is inadequate supply of medicines needed to manage some mental illnesses and most of these medicines aren’t supported by our National Health Insurance Scheme.
To pay more attention to mental health, government, donor agencies and all stakeholders should support mental health in Ghana in terms of human and other essential resources. There should be enough psychoeducation throughout the country to sensitise the role of mental health and the need to support it. More so, there should be employment of mental health professionals in both health and non-health institutions like schools, banks, mining, manufacturing and so forth in the country. Mental health is as vital as other components of health and have to receive sufficient attention.
– Are you struggling with depression? Get professional help.
Jacob Owusu Safo: Personal mobile phone / WhatsApp contact: +233 (0) 246 485 735.
Studentshubgh Team: Whatsapp: +233 (0) 207 259 376/ +33 (0) 753 493 968