Depression And Anxiety In Modern Africa
Depression and anxiety are neglected topics in Africa, there are even some people who claim that they are ‘un-African’, however, have become common occurrences mostly in the lives of African youths and young adults.
Anxiety is a mental health disorder characterized by feelings of worry, anxiety, or fear that are strong enough to interfere with one’s daily activities while Depression is a mental health disorder characterized by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life. Possible causes include a combination of biological, psychological, and social sources of distress.
Increasingly, research suggests these factors may cause changes in brain function, including the altered activity of certain neural circuits in the brain. Its victims tend to see life from a negative angle and most times keep their feelings and thoughts to themselves because they believe they won’t be understood or taken seriously.
Over the years, 90% of depression and anxiety victims have been ignored or neglected by the society and family because they fail to observe or pay attention to the victims’ state of mind and little changes that take place in the person.
Most people who suffer from depression and anxiety are known to do a great job at hiding their raging and sometimes, suicidal thoughts behind a calm and happy facade meanwhile they’re hurting, bleeding and dying slowly on the inside.
Researching on this topic, I talked to a friend who agreed to share his experience and here’s what he had to say;
I’ve been a victim of depression and anxiety and if I’m being honest, I still am. My depression started since I was a kid. I wasn’t abused neither did I lack anything a happy child should’ve had and in the African society, I was expected to be happy and had no reason to be depressed but I was.
Growing up, I was different from the other kids around. I would talk to myself and prefer being isolated to being around my peers and this led to them calling me crazy and all sorts of names. It wasn’t quite serious at that point until I got into secondary school. Being a different kid, the bullying increased.
My classmates and even the senior students would call me names or hit me because I would talk to myself occasionally. I complained to my parents severally and they always shrugged my words off saying, “It’s alright, focus on your studies more and friends will come.” I started focusing on my studies but I felt empty on the inside.
I lost interest in everything and focused on my studies to please my parents. The mocking never stopped and I recoiled deeper into my shell. I eventually grew used to it and decided not to make friends because I believed everyone was the same.
I even stopped talking to my parents about it because they’d always dismiss my complaints with frowns.
The story goes on but I’ll stop here to highlight the most important part of his story. His Parents. Parents are expected to be their children’s heroes and source of security but most parents neglect little details that could be serious problems in future.
In his case, if his parents had spoken to him differently and had comforted him or taken actions to make him feel secure or helped boost his self-esteem around people or sought for professional help, plausibly things could have been different but unfortunately, the contrary was the case.
Parents should learn to have open conversations with their kids and be able to take measures to connect with them emotionally so they can pinpoint when there’s a potential issue and know how to solve these issues instead of brushing off certain things they see as frivolous or sometimes as “annoying habits passed from your mother”.
Depression and anxiety are issues that demand concentration. We should not underestimate or ignore these things because they have diverse effects on the lives of the victims and most times lead to suicide or suicidal thoughts.
If depression and anxiety victims are shown attention, care and are given a listening ear, it’ll go a long way in giving them the promise of a better infinity and make them feel less alone and stranded.