Mental Disorder is a wide range of conditions that affect mood, thinking and behavior. Several indications show that over 60 million Nigerians have one form of mental disorder or the other with only about 20 per cent of persons in such category are seen to have the obvious forms of it, which includes what the ordinary Nigerian refers to madness, schizophrenia, and perhaps extreme case of drug or alcohol addiction; a reason that has largely made mental disorder in the remaining 80 per cent or 48 million Nigerians ignored or poorly understood.
On specifics, the World Health Organization (WHO) says over 7,079,815 Nigerians suffer from one of the most ignored and misunderstood form of mental disorder in the country – depression. This represents 3.9 per cent of the entire population; making Nigeria, according to the current prevalence rate, the most depressed country in Africa.
It also says 4,894,557 Nigerians, that is 2.7 per cent of the population, suffer anxiety disorders. The country is closely followed by Ethiopia with 4,480,113 sufferers, Democratic Republic of Congo with 2,871,309 sufferers, South Africa with 2,402,230 sufferers, and Tanzania with 2,138,939 sufferers.
Most common types
- Clinical depression: A mental health disorder characterized by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life.
- Anxiety disorder: A mental health disorder characterised by feelings of worry, anxiety or fear that are strong enough to interfere with one’s daily activities.
- Bipolar disorder: A disorder associated with episodes of mood swings ranging from depressive lows to manic highs.
- Dementia: A group of thinking and social symptoms that interferes with daily functioning.
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: A chronic condition including attention difficulty, hyperactivity and impulsiveness.
- Schizophrenia: A disorder that affects a person’s ability to think, feel and behave clearly.
- Obsessive compulsive disorder: Excessive thoughts (obsessions) that lead to repetitive behaviors (compulsions).
- Autism: A serious developmental disorder that impairs the ability to communicate and interact.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder: A disorder characterised by failure to recover after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event.
Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental disorder where people feel the need to check things repeatedly, perform certain routines repeatedly (called “rituals”), or have certain thoughts repeatedly (called “obsessions”). People are unable to control either the thoughts or the activities for more than a short period of time. Common activities include hand washing, counting of things, and checking to see if a door is locked. Some may have difficulty throwing things out. These activities occur to such a degree that the person’s daily life is negatively affected. This often takes up more than an hour and most adults realize that the behaviors do not make sense. The condition is associated with tics, anxiety disorder, and an increased risk of suicide.
However, Treatment involves counselling, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and sometimes antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or clomipramine. CBT for OCD involves increasing exposure to what causes the problems while not allowing the repetitive behavior to occur. While clomipramine appears to work as well as SSRIs, it has greater side effects so is typically reserved as a second line treatment. A typical antipsychotic may be useful when used in addition to an SSRI in treatment-resistant cases but are also associated with an increased risk of side effects. Without treatment, the condition often lasts decades.
FOUR PROVEN WAYS TO MANAGE OCD
- FACT CHECKING: “An effective technique for lessening our fears (and thus lessening OCD behaviors) is understanding or making known the causes of our fears—’fact-checking,'” By trying to understand their fears and looking into why particular compulsions exist, people with OCD can help remove the compulsive component of the disorder. For example, if someone with OCD has an irrational fear of germs, they may wash their hands repeatedly. Learning that over-washing actually increases vulnerability to germs and disease can help reduce the compulsion.
- OCD – PROOF THE WORLD: Modern technology provides many tools to that can help people with OCD reassure themselves, such as video monitors (to make sure the stove is off, for example) and remote locking systems (to prevent worrying about whether you locked the door). Provided checking those devices doesn’t become a compulsive behavior in itself, these tools can help prevent repetitive behaviors.
- SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP: While you may be able to use many of these techniques at home, Dr. Pryor strongly recommends an evaluation with a mental health practitioner. “You do not have to suffer in silence, it can get better,” she says. “Effective treatment has been shown to significantly decrease or even eliminate OCD symptoms.”
- SURROUNDING TECHNIQUE: By sharing their struggles with others, people with OCD can get the help they need to overcome their compulsions. Dr. Mayer suggests to his patients that they share their struggles with as many people as they feel comfortable and safe with and then ask for their help in preventing OCD behaviors. “So, it goes something like this,” says Dr. Mayer: “‘If you see me checking the front door lock more than once, tell me to stop and reassure me that the door is locked and I can move on,’ or ‘If you see me count the ceiling tiles before I walk into a room, tell me to stop.'”