Dr. Maymunah Yusuf Kadiri is a mental health advocate, founder of Pinnacle Medical Services Limited and Co-Founder, Hygies Consult Nigeria Limited- Optimal Performance Consult. She is a Consultant Neuro-Psychiatrist and a Fellow of the National Post-Graduate Medical College of Physicians (FMCPsych) with over 10 years experience as a practicing Physician.
She is also a trained and certified Rational Emotive and Cognitive Behavioural Therapist, Trauma Counsellor, Berard AIT and Neurofeedback Practitioner. With broad experience in psycho-therapeutic techniques, she has perfected her skills whilst in private practice and whilst working for a variety of organizations.
As a recognized radio and television guest Psychiatrist/Psychotherapist, she also contributes to articles in magazines and newspapers. She is a member of several professional organizations, including Nigerian Medical Association (NMA); Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria (APN); American Psychiatric Association (APA); Canadian Psychiatric Association (CPA); Society for Quality Healthcare of Nigeria (SQHN); Medical Women Association of Nigeria (MWAN); Society of Occupational and Environmental Health Physicians of Nigeria (SOEHPON); International Society for Neurofeedback and Research (ISNR), and Employee Assistance Professional Association (EAPA).
Recently Esther Onyegbula, had a chat with her at an event held to mark the World Mental Day and she talks about the growing trend of depression in young people, factors causing depression, symptoms and solutions of depression as well as youth addiction to socio media.
What is this seminar all about?
The seminar is an event organized by pinnacle medical services, to enlighten Nigerians on what depression and its effect. We are joining the rest of the world today to celebrate the World Mental Health Day; a day set aside by the World Health Organisation to celebrate mental health related issues. And the theme for the year is Depression, a Global crisis.
What really inspired this seminar?
Depression is becoming a very common mental disorder that can have severe consequences. According to WHO, it is a significant contributor to the global burden of diseases and has no ethnic, racial, geographical or economic bias, and in 2020, depression will be the second leading cause of world disability. People need to know and understand that being physically healthy does not entirely mean that you are mentally sound. And an individual who is not mentally sound can deviate from his set goals.
Though this is my area of specialty, the event is borne out of a passion to help create awareness in this area of health that is often taken for granted. That is why we joined the rest of the world to celebrate and educate Nigerians on depression. In time past, depression used to be associated with the elderly, now many young persons suffer depression. And it is highly linked with suicide, although suicide which is related to depression is not that common in this part of the world
As a trained specialist, why do people get depressed?
Sometimes, there may be an obvious reason for becoming depressed, sometimes not. There is usually more than one reason and reasons vary for different people. Apart from the genetic factors that often result in depression, other environmental stressors like unemployment, violence, Boko Haram, militancy, relationship breakdown or bereavement, or even the birth of a child can cause depression.
Natural disasters like the flood affecting most part of Nigeria directly or indirectly lead to depression. For instance, lets take the victims of these flood disaster as a case study, some of the victims might develop the adjustment related depression, with the fact that they have to relocate from their homes to another place, some will not be able to reintegrate well into their new community, while some may develop post traumatic stress disorder. Sometimes, it is not clear but either way, these feelings can become so bad that you need help.
To a lay man on the streets of Nigeria, what does it feel to be depressed?
The feeling of depression is longer, deeper and more unpleasant than the shorter episodes of unhappiness that everyone experiences occasionally. Some of the symptoms include: losing interest in life, finding it harder to make decisions, inability to cope with things that use to be manageable, feeling exhausted and difficulties getting to sleep, feeling restless and agitated, loss of appetite and weight, and in some extreme cases, such individuals start hearing voices and seeing strange things.
How would an individual know if he is depressed?
Often, people don’t realize how depressed they are because it comes on gradually. They may try to struggle, to cope with feelings of depression by being very busy. This can make them even more stressed and exhausted. Physical pains such as headaches or sleeplessness then starts to manifest. Sometimes, these physical signs can be the first sign of a depression.
What are the best ways to manage and address the issue of depression in the society?
We need to talk, we need to create awareness, and we need to speak out and seek help. See the problem as it is, not saying I am fine, it is well, and God is in control. When someone is depressed you cannot wish it away, you need to seek help and seek help at the right time.
Don’t you think the stigma associated with mental health makes people shy away from seeking professional help from a psychiatrist?
It might not necessary see a psychiatrist, you can go to a primary healthcare service provider; they will be able to do some diagnosis and ascertain if the person requires further help or not. And if a person needs further assistance, he would be referred to a specialist. When such persons are referred to us, we take it from there. Of course, I agree with you totally with the issue of stigma and discrimination as a reason why people shy away from seeking help, that is why we are preaching awareness. We need people to come out and talk about it and know that it is normal to seek help.
What help and assistance are available?
There are different types of treatment available: lifestyle changes with talking treatments ,counseling, psychotherapy, biofeedback and medication. They can be accessed through health service provider.
What will happen if an individual refuses to get treatment?
Four out of every five persons with depression will get better, without help but this can take up till four to six months or longer. It still leaves one in every five people depressed and in about two years time, a small number of people with depression will eventually die by suicide.
What are the challenges?
Due to the stigma and discrimination, people don’t want to talk about it; people don’t want to seek help. My friends can easily introduce Dr. XYZ a paediatrician as their doctor but people find it overwhelming and embarrassing to introduce Dr. Kadiri, a Psychiatrist as their doctor.
There was an incidence where a friend introduced me as her doctor, and immediately after realizing the gravity, she re-introduced me as her friend and not her doctor. Another challenge is that of accessibility of location. Some people don’t want to go to Yaba or other government owned facilities because they need private services like what we provide but they don’t know where or how to access private mental healthcare service provider.
Before now ,you said people can get addicted to internet, how possible?
Every form of addiction is in stages, you have to crave for it; you have to narrow down to what it really is, you have to neglect all other things in pursuit of that particular thing. Sometimes, you have forensic issues, just as people get addicted to alcohol and drugs, so also can people get addicted to the internet especially the social media. The fact remains that it has the good and the bad sides to it. Every minute you want interact with other on the socio media, if you are at work, you become less productive.