800,000 commit suicide yearly due to depression – Don

By 10:13 Thu, 22 Oct 2015 Comments

A Professor of Psychiatry, Joseph Adeyemi, has called for a review of Mental Health Act to accommodate developments that have been made over the years, noting that no fewer than 800,000 persons commit suicide yearly as a result of depression.

Adeyemi said the Act was last reviewed about 56 years ago and had become obsolete in addressing cases of depression, which he described as complex.

The don spoke on Wednesday in Lagos during the presentation of a book, ‘Shadows in the mirror: the many faces of depression’, written by Dr Vivian Ikem.

He praised the author for coming up with the “spectacular” book.

Adeyemi said, “The Mental Health Act, enacted in the 1900s, was last reviewed in 1959 despite medical improvements made over the years. Our laws should keep up with current situations, but we have remained static, the way we were in 1959.

“It is difficult to get depression patients to accept the fact of their illnesses. The author is one of the few who are bold enough to declare that problems publicly. The book is easily readable and understandable.”

Speaking on the topic, Is depression a problem in Nigeria?, a Consultant Clinical Psychologist at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Charles Umeh, said depression could be caused by genetic factors, hormonal changes, certain medical illnesses, stress, grief and substance abuse among others.

“Depression is a mood disorder, which causes persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest in pleasurable activities, and affects thinking, feeling and behaviour. Its symptoms are moodiness, persistent sadness, withdrawal, substance abuse, attempt to harm oneself, changes in appetite, weight loss/gain, changes in sleep pattern, irritability, aggression, restlessness and low self esteem among others,” he added.

Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, who was represented by the General Manager, Lagos Television, Deji Balogun, said mental illnesses had not received appreciable attention.

Ambode condemned people’s indifference to the plight of victims of depression, adding that the challenge had attendant costs on the economy.

He said the book would re-awaken government’s attention in addressing the effects of the illness.

The governor added, “A depressed person cannot be a product. Rather, the victim constitutes a drain on the resources of the community when help, especially professional help, is not forthcoming. This publication by Dr Vivian Ikem is a timely wake-up call to government and everybody in the society that a smile, a word of encouragement and understanding would go a long way in curtailing the destructive effect of depression in our society.”

A National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, described the author as a woman of “excellent intellect” and “unmatchable lucidity”.

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