Retired Brig.-Gen. Gbenga Okulate, a Psychiatrist with the Nigeria Military Hospital Yaba (NMHY), has identified stress as the major cause of mental and physical illnesses in the country.
Okulate made the observation in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Lagos.
He said that the socio-economic situation of the country had generally imposed massive stress on Nigerians.
According to him, the inflation rate, which has resulted in high cost of living alone, brings much uncertainty about life, and as a result; many people are afraid and stressed.
He said that about 90 per cent of those who attempted to take their lives were known to have psychiatric problems.
Okulate added that out of the figure, 80 per cent were as a result of stress, depression, and other socio-economic conditions in the country.
He noted that the recent scarcity of fuel across the country, economic hardship, coupled with the level of insecurity, were stressors that might likely inflict both physical and mental illness to more Nigerians.
“In the last few years, Nigerians have had to deal with issues like kidnapping, attacks and socio-economic downturns, among others.
“The recent fuel scarcity, forcing an individual to stay in queue for over three hours to buy fuel even at exorbitant prices, is a major stressor for Nigerians.
“Even the traffic gridlock experienced in major cities, particularly Lagos State, translates to lots of stress on the people, which predisposes them to diseases and health challenges.
“In Lagos, people are so aggressive due to stress being faced with the challenges to meet up with the demands of life.
“If one’s well-being is affected, such that an individual is not able to realise his potential or finds it difficult to work effectively or contribute to society and be able to overcome normal stresses of life, then the person cannot be said to be healthy,” Okulate said.
He said that Nigerians were prone to mental illnesses due to the visible hardships in the country.
Okulate noted that stress was a major contributing factor to the increasing cases of mental health issues.
He also identified stress as a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, stressing that people should make efforts to get rid of things that constitute stress in their lives.
The psychiatrist called on the government to be more proactive in efforts to address the socio-economic challenges in the country in order to reduce the stressors faced by the citizens.