Depression is an illness of the mood in which the sufferer may be confused about why she is unhappy and becomes disinterested in things that gave her pleasure in the past also, the persistence of this feeling for more than two weeks. Most of the time, those who experience depression and their concerned loved ones are confused about the causes of depression. The frequent questions are what could make one feel this despondent to the extent that everything seems hopeless?

There is the tendency to consider poor socioeconomic factors as the main reason why people suffer depression especially as most African countries where there are dismal economic realities, life is often with negative narratives both in public and private lives. While this may cause sadness, it may not be enough to make one depressed.  Depression is not a one-factor illness but combination of factors which I would like to call risk factors.

Let us look at risk factors as those things which make us more vulnerable to having depression. They are those things that increase the possibility of becoming depressed. These are often classified as biological, psychological and social factors or biopsychosocial factors among the medical population. These things are often true for depression and most other illnesses that are common around us. If these factors are not increasing the risks of depression, they can on the other hand be protective factors. Protective factors are simply those things that help you not to come down with depression or any other illness.

Biological factors are related to our body or physiological components such as the chemical abilities of the brain and the fact that humans are genetically wired. This could mean that biological factors in depression can be inherited or that it could be as a result of imbalance in the level of brain chemicals. If one’s parents are not depressed, this means it is a protective factor and vice-versa if either of the parents has received the diagnosis of depression in the past.  Psychological factors are those factors that talk about the inability of an individual to cope with various challenges of life. These coping skills are in different degrees for each person. While the social factors can extend to as far as neighborhood violence, negative experiences in a marriage and general living conditions, business downturn and the likes. These factors are mixed together to uniquely cause the experience of depression.

It will be agreeable that we have different doses of these factors and they sometimes work interchangingly to affect us. As those who may have had traumatic childhood experiences which could be a risk factor may have good psychological coping mechanism which is a protective factor.           

We should be more circumspect in the way we talk about depression, we should rather be more sensitive about the mix of the biopsychosocial factors in the development of depression, like Sade who was 21 years old when she fell in love with a 23-year-old young man in her first year in the University. It was love at first sight – she can’t sleep without talking to him, she wants to be around him always, she spends all her allowances to keep him happy, she gets afraid when she hears that boys breaks the heart of girls after sex and it’s as if that’s where the young man is pushing her as he’s constantly asking for it.

Finally, because she had promised her dad not to have sex before marriage, the young man sent her a text on the first day of her 2nd year, “it’s over” she cried throughout the week and her room mates were laughing that she would soon get over it, with everyone recounting their own stories (calling it Jambite blues)– she stopped classes, sleeps all the time, stopped dressing well ‘sometimes leaves her clothes unwashed’, stopped making her hair and saying “ I will never get married again” “ there is no reason for living now”. After a month of crying and not going back to her way of living friends decided to call her dad. Then her father, told her school health center doctor that her mum was also depressed before (Sade thought her mum was just abnormally introverted/quiet person at that time), while Sade being an only child is also introverted and lacks relational skills – indeed the young man is the first person to ever ask her out before.

Its obvious as from the case above that there are often biopsychosocial factors at the base of our development of depression although sometimes it is not as clear cut as highlighted above but this makes case for the treatment of depression as biological – psychological and social treatment (most times).

Depression is not supposed to be a life sentence, its treatable therefore get help! Contact us today and enjoy the best psychological services available at Diamondmoor Psychological Consult and Services, Ibadan  –   [email protected], 022914084, +234 812827696

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