Mental health is an important aspect of our well-being and life. Just like how problems can affect our physical health, some problems can affect our mental health. However, a lot of people don’t take mental health seriously. The awareness and knowledge of mental health disorders is poor in Nigeria.
Therefore, many Nigerians don’t find it easy to get proper and prompt medical attention to their mental health issues. A lot of people are suffering from different types of mental health problems in Nigeria. Unfortunately, it’s they don’t know about it or have no access to adequate mental health care. The mental health statistics in Nigeria are very alarming.
Every Nigerian should know that mental health is a real thing. One of the first steps towards achieving good mental health is to learn about the most common types of mental health disorders.
That is what we will be discussing in this article. You will find out the most common mental health problems affecting Nigerians today.
5 Common Mental Health Problems in Nigeria
Depression is the number one mental health issue affecting Nigerians. It refers to a broad range of mental health problems, usually associated with a lack of positivity. Depressed people lose interest in enjoyment, in ordinary things, and social activities. They also have low mood, inadequate sleep, feelings of guilt, worthlessness, low self-esteem and poor appetite.
It is easy to see why depression is common in Nigeria. The rate of unemployment, violence, injustice and severe socioeconomic factors are the cause.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), millions of Nigerians are suffering from depression, and they need proper mental health care. They need counselling, mental health therapy and care.
2. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post-traumatic stress disorder
(PTSD) Normally begins after experiencing one or more traumatic events like acts of violence, severe accidents, natural disasters or military intervention. Most people who are at risk of having PTSD are survivors of sexual abuse, war, terrorism, accidents and disasters, and other violent crimes.
Additionally, refugees, women who had traumatic childbirth, and members of the armed forces, police and other emergency personnel can have PTSD.
You can agree with me that a huge number of Nigerians fall under the above-mentioned categories. In areas like Jos, Benue and Born violence has been on the rise and many inhabitants there suffer from PTSD.
Patients of PTSD in Nigeria need immediate treatment such as psychotherapy as well as medications to manage symptoms.
3. Postpartum mental disorders
There are a few mental illnesses that affect women after giving birth. Postpartum Psychosis is one of the serious forms of postpartum psychiatric disorders that affect Nigerian women after childbirth. The symptoms of postpartum psychosis include severe aggressiveness, loud crying, screaming, attempts to harm self and the child.
Another postpartum mental illness is Postpartum Depression. It occurs within the 1st 2 to 3 weeks after childbirth. Postpartum depression is usually associated with negative thoughts, crying, guilt, feelings of worthlessness fatigue, inadequate sleep, frequent loss of concentration and sadness.
A lot of Nigerian women suffer from postpartum mental health issues. A study by Psychiatrist Adewuya A.O. in 2005 showed that postnatal depression was prevalent among Nigerian women.
They need immediate psychological help and support after childbirth.
4. Anxiety Disorders
Another common mental health problem in Nigeria are anxiety disorders.
Anxiety is a normal emotion; everybody feels anxious once in a while. For instance, you may feel nervous when faced with a problem at school, at work, or when facing challenges.
Anxiety disorders are different from normal anxiety emotions; they are a group of mental illnesses that can affect your health and well-being.
People who have anxiety disorders are constantly worried and afraid and overwhelmed. Common types of anxiety disorders include Panic disorder, Social anxiety disorder, and Specific phobias.
Anyone suffering from anxiety disorders needs adequate mental health treatment, which should include counselling or medication, like antidepressants.
5. Schizophrenia and other psychosis
Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder, that affects over 25 million people worldwide.
Schizophrenia and psychosis are characterized by distorted thinking, poor perception, strange emotions, and distortion in language, and behaviour.
The symptoms of schizophrenia are grouped in to behavioural, cognitive, psychological and social. They include hostility, aggression, lack of self-restraint, disorientation, thought disorder, hallucination, fatigue, incoherent speech, paranoia, hearing voices, depression, delusion, anxiety, feeling detached, and apathy.
The cause of schizophrenia is no known. However, genetics, environment and altered brain chemistry are key factors that cause schizophrenia.
A sizable number of Nigerians suffer from schizophrenia and are never diagnosed.
A lot of schizophrenia patients in Nigeria suffer from stigma and discrimination because of poor access to mental health and social services. They are also at high risk of exposure to human rights violations, like being labelled as witches, long-term confinement in institutions and torture. In fact, a survey found out that 72% of Nigerians believe that schizophrenia was caused by a supernatural phenomenon.
Schizophrenia patients require a lifelong treatment that should include a combination of medications, special mental health care services and psychotherapy.
These are the five most common mental health problems in Nigeria. Nigerians need to know more about these mental health issues and take mental health seriously.
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