According to WHO, depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide and it is estimated that about 300 million people globally suffer from it. Depression is often conflated with sadness as the symptoms can be quite similar. However, the two are quite different, whereas the former is a clinically diagnosed mood disorder, the latter is a case of the blues that lifts after a short time or goes away with some cheering up.
The symptoms of major depression or clinical depression as it is sometimes referred to, are a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest that you previously enjoyed. The symptoms can also manifest themselves physically by altering your sleep patterns. It can either cause you to sleep too much or lack of sleep, cause changes in your appetite, and in some cases lead to inexplicable aggression. The feeling of worthlessness can sometimes drive those suffering from it to suicide. For it to be considered major depression, the feeling needs to last longer than two weeks and be diagnosed by a psychiatrist.
This illustrated video will help shed more light on what depression is.
Kenya’s mental health policy estimates that about 25% of out patients and about 40% of in-patients suffer from mental health conditions. The most frequent diagnosis of mental illnesses made in general hospital settings are depression, substance abuse, stress and anxiety disorders. Mental health in Kenya is grossly underfunded, forcing most of those suffering from it to seek private treatment which is very costly. In cases where they cannot afford to seek treatment, they continue to suffer from the debilitating effects of mental illness. Kenya is among countries listed by WHO as one of the countries lacking a separate health budget for mental health.
Fortunately, there are some affordable mental health resources that one can use either to help them gain a better understanding of what mental health is or to navigate through a mental health crises.
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Befrienders Kenya is an NGO that specializes in education about mental health. They have a blog that defines the different types of mental illnesses and how to identify them. In addition to that, they have a hotline that one can call when experiencing feelings of self-harm and a trained counselor can help you navigate the crisis and provide emotional support. The numbers are +254736542304 or +254722178177.