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‘Why depressed Nigerians don’t seek medical help’

A Psychiatrist, Dr Kenneth Uwaje, says many depressed people in Nigeria are not seeking medical help due to misunderstanding, poor education and stigma.

Uwaje, who is a resident doctor at the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba in Lagos, spoke in an interview with newsmen on Sunday in Lagos.

He said studies show that 14 per cent, which translates to about 22 million people, are clinically depressed in the country.

“However, these people rarely seek medical help; this is founded on misunderstanding, poor education, and predominantly stigma.

“People know that they feel sad, bad, tired for no apparent reason, and they do not enjoy what they used to enjoy.

“They have negative thoughts of the past, present and future, and they begin to feel hopeless, helpless and sometimes worthless, even to the point where they contemplate taking their lives, “ he said.

The psychiatrist said that if depression was not treated, it could lead from moderate to severe depression with psychotic symptoms.

According to him, these symptoms are associated with bizarre manifestations including hearing strange voices and seeing faces; but it can lead to suicide.

“Overall impaired quality of life is the case of people who are depressed and because the mortality is not so high, the illness persists for so long.

“These are some of the implications of not treating depression on the social setting, “ he said.

Uwaje said that hospital was the safest place for people who were depressed to visit.

He said: “In Nigeria, we do not have the three tiers of health system fully active.

“Otherwise, the primary healthcare centres should be able to cater for some to an extent, then moving to the secondary and tertiary.

“However, if one is depressed enough, you seek help. More importantly, we need to spread the word about depression that it is an illness like malaria, typhoid and it appears to affect lots of people.

“It is also, non-communicable and it is treatable. “

NAN


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