By Japhet Alakam
The word depression may sound very simple in the ears of many, but it is a silent yet virulent killer described by psychiatrists as “ the common cold of psychiatry.” But one fundamental issue about it is that despite its negative effect it has not received the deserved attention and worse still, little has been published on the subject all over the world and particularly in the African world. It is in response to this, that Dr Vivian Ikem, a scientist who has experienced it came up with a new book entitled, Shadows In the Mirrow: The Many faces of Depression.
In the 162 pages book, Ikem offers a one-stop resource to those wanting to understand depression and seek the help they need for recovery. Beginning with her own honest account of her encounter with depression, the book provides information on types, causes, prevention and treatment of this devastating illness.
According to Dr Ikem, Depression, derives its debilitating toxins from the common mistake of underestimation and the lumping of it with misplaced synonyms such as moodiness, sadness and heaviness. It is a psychological disorder, a sickness, potentially with mortal harm in its wake. As such, each one of the trio of – sadness, moodiness and heaviness – are only initial stopovers on a long and very dark lane. .
The author in the book, shares her confidence with would-be sufferers (since nearly everyone is prone to the affliction at one time or the other, at least in one of its milder stages of gestation.) The book retains few technical terminologies that could otherwise inhibit the general reader. She confesses that she herself could not guess how serious and mortally hurtful the disorder could be until she had gone through that crucible of experience.
Ikem in the book also highlights some of the effects which include, paralysing the will when in full swing, robs the victim of the impetus to indulge in the most menial of everyday chores. Other losses following in tow include the loss of appetite and loss of interest in activities they were once excited by. The author advises that people should not to trifle with the disorder when a loved one slides into it, is given in a multitude of illustrations, over and over again.
The book describes measures that can aid recovery and self-retrieval like speaking to someone who would listen is very precious to the recovery process. Others include improved nutritional choices, exercises and psychotherapy (talk therapy), the need for clinical therapy (use of medicines) where matters get to the brink of acute etc.
A whole chapter is devoted to the utility and great value of finding one to listen. Where no one lends a listening ear, it is inevitable that the victim would retract and become entirely and resolutely self-contained. She also looks at it from the context of faith communities. The author shows how there can be a higher incidence rate of fatality triggered by depressive episodes when left to fester. She is convinced that depression would be nipped in the bud if love was put into action.
Corporate organisations which desire optimal performance from their employees will do well to put the procedure in place for tackling depression whenever it rears its ugly head. The book closes on a bright note: health rebounds when the patient sees the first rays of hope. The book asserts that hope is brightest for those who nurse faith, even if, somewhere along the line, their faith did fritter away.
The whole book is a wholesale warning and a call on everyone to be more sensitive. The foible common to our relationships is that we deck ourselves out in the toga of ultimate knowledge and pontificate even over things we simply have not experienced.