Category Archives: Depression

Is depression a flaw in love?

As creatures of love, we inherently long to love and be loved. To be loved by that special someone and reciprocating with your undivided attention, or affection for a special cause forms a pillar in our life and can make our existence meaningful.

This longing if not satisfied can be a source of weariness that has the potential to affect the quality of our life. And unfortunately, unrequited love doesn’t die, it’s only beaten down to a secret place where it hides, curled and wounded. Federico Garcia Lorca rightly put it this way, “to burn with desire and keep quiet about it is the greatest punishment we can bring on ourselves”.

In his book, the noonday demon, Andrew Solomon writes, “Depression is the flaw in love. To be creatures who love, we must be creatures who can despair at what we lose, and depression is the mechanism of that despair.” Isn’t it amazing how everything becomes easy and tolerable when it is something we love to do and how we overlook the imperfections of someone we love? Sigmund Freud, the father of the psychoanalytic theory of depression, in explaining the cause of depression described it as an unconscious conflict between human instincts and the human conscious. And in other to avoid such potentially damaging conflicts, there is the need to develop defence mechanisms.

Although love may not be protective against depression, it cushions the mind and protects it from itself. This love may be directed to self, work, God or anything of interest. These passions can furnish the vital sense of purpose which is the opposite of depression.


Identify your object or being of love and when you do, let us know how your relationship developed and progressed. Others will be interested to know how you did it. Send us an email at

Adapting won’t change your identity, instead, it will build your resilience

I always find myself admiring the changing colors of leaves at the onset of fall. The sight of leaf colors ranging from green to red, yellow, orange, purple and several others is very beautiful. After all, we all love beautiful things and we realize how much color these leaves bring to life.

On my way to the university on this particular day, while admiring the sight of the changing leaf colors, a thought struck me. It wasn’t for the reason of beauty that plants changed their leaf color in fall. Maintaining the green color from chlorophyll is energy demanding, and in fall when there is less sun, plants have to trade off their green color for less energy requiring pigments so as to conserve energy. This change doesn’t make it less a plant, and is a necessary adaptation for the plant’s survival. One thing is constant and that is the changing environmental conditions.

And so it is with our lives. Life altering events are constant and for every phase of life we enter, we encounter different circumstances. These events usually require that we make adjustments to suit the time. Adapting to these changing circumstances doesn’t in any way change our identity, rather it helps us build resilience. These necessitated changes  question our preconceived notion of who we are and how we are supposed to act. Finding the balance between what to let go and what to hold on to (like the plant losing its chlorophyll to conserve energy) sets us on a path to achieve satisfaction in the present situation and builds our resilience, which may be a buffer against the development of anxiety and stress, both of which contribute to depression.

Changes to build resilience may include positive emotions and optimism, humor, cognitive flexibility, cognitive explanatory style and reappraisal, acceptance, religion/spirituality, altruism, social support, role models, coping style and exercise.

Seek help if you are depressed. You are not alone and you will find a network of support if you seek help. Talk to a trusted person about how you feel. You can also share your experiences with others to inspire them and keep going on. Send us a message at “


Your abuse of substances is worsening your depression and so is your depression.

It is very easy and tempting to turn to drugs and addictive behaviours when anxiety and depressive symptoms come knocking at your door. These momentary pleasures will do the magic of making you forget your struggles for a brief moment. But once their effects wear off, you will need even more doses to produce the same effects they had on you yesterday. And before you realize it, you are dosing large amounts of these drugs becasue the little amounts can no longer produce the irie effects and guess what, you are gradually becoming an addict.

But the story doesn’t end there. You abusing these drugs doesn’t take away your root problems, they just shadow it and the day you try to stay sober, thinking everything is fine BOOM!!!! everything is in your face. Your symptoms are even worse than you remember and on top of it, you are an addict. WOW!, what a cool way to try to treat depression.

Although it is very common to find depression and addiction coexisting in depressive individuals, it is quite hard to determine which condition precedes the other. However, it is clear that depression and substance abuse feed on each other. The presence of either condition makes the other even worse. R.E Meyer in an effort to describe the relationship between these two proposed: Depression may be the cause or result of substance abuse; Depression may alter or worsen substance abuse; Depression may coexist with substance abuse without affecting it, or Depression and substance abuse may be two symptoms of a single problem.

In the end, even if depression made a person prone to addiction, it is important to remember that, curing just the depression won’t necessarily put an end to the addiction. Once a depressed person has addiction problems, he or she has two problems to deal with and as such treatment should be targeted at both issues.

Triggers of a depressive breakdown

After a friend asked me how she could tell what exactly triggers a depressive episode and if an inferiority complex could contribute to depression. I remember telling her inferiority complex could contribute to the onset of an episode if, events capable of causing depression had accumulated in the course of life. I suggested; one way was to take stock of recent life events that may contribute to triggering an episode.
I recently came across a literature and would like to share what I learnt with my readers.

The onset of depression is a cumulative effect, having an uncharacteristic behaviour that is influenced by hidden variables. In the face of a major depression, one tends to look back for the roots of it; wondering whether it was always there or whether it came on suddenly as food poisoning. Having a breakdown when you have experienced trauma or when your life is a mess is clearly understandable. But having an episode when everything seems fine and you are finally in a good place is confusing. Depression does not always stem from recent life events. Factors leading to a breakdown gather over the years, usually a lifetime.

Severely threatening life events usually trigger initial breakdowns, the second episode, somewhat less; and for subsequent episodes, life events may play no part at all. It then becomes random and endogenous, dissociated from life events. (Look up The stress of depression on some factors that contribute to the dissociation of episode from event triggers).

Physical trauma is among the primary triggers for psychiatric trauma. We all encounter periods of physical and psychological trauma and chances are high, that people with a significant vulnerability will relapse in the face of a problem. So do not consider intolerance for extreme pain, whether physical or psychological as a weakness of character.


The stress of depression

Stress is good for you. It keeps you alert, motivated and primed to respond to danger. As anyone who has faced a work deadline or competed in a sport knows, stress mobilizes the body to respond, improving performance. Yet too much stress or chronic stress may lead to major depression in susceptible people.

Depression is stressful and stress contributes to depression. Stress induced cortisol expression and depression are related events that lead to reduced serotonin levels, the major neurotransmitter involved in the development and progress of depression. High cortisol levels may not directly cause depression, but it may exacerbate a minor condition to a major syndrome. The brains of human suicide patients show extremely high levels of Corticotropin Releasing Factor (CRF), the precursor of cortisol and causes expansion of the adrenal glands.

The presence of cortisol in the blood undergoes diurnal variation, with levels peaking in the early morning and reaching its lowest level at about midnight or three to five hours after the onset of sleep. A changed pattern of serum cortisol levels has been found in people with major depressive disorders.

Once you’ve had stress sufficient to cause a protracted increase of your cortisol levels, your cortisol system is damaged and in the future, it will not readily turn off once it has been activated, as such, recurrent episodes of depression break free of situational triggers and leads to automatic triggers of episodes.

Beyond a certain point, depression becomes random and endogenous; dissociated from life events. At this point, an episode does not occur due to triggers by external stimuli, but altered biochemistry. This emphasizes the need for people with recurrent depression to stay on medication permanently.

Targeting cortisol as a treatment option is a viable idea but still under investigation due to its side effects and role in other biological events (fight-or-flight responses, adrenal energy, anti-inflammatory action, decision making and resolution, immune system activation among others).

Factors that reduce cortisol levels

Continue reading The stress of depression

The feeling of emptiness

“There’s no crispness to the morning. The smell of coffee serves only as a reminder that another long dreary day has begun. There’s no real feeling, no joy, not even much anger, only emptiness. It’s difficult to remember feeling any different and getting more difficult to go on feeling this way. Sitting in a dark corner with eyes closed imagining nothingness until there is nothing would be easier. Instead here’s the day to face, the responsibilities, the people, the emptiness, but the energy that once fortified the day is no more.

Concentration has become a bad joke. Even love is now only a faint echo of itself. A leaden haze obscures the day and folds into a dark tunnel with no hint of light at the end. Where is hope? There is none. Where is happiness? Gone as if it had never been, replaced by tears that must be hidden. Where is relief? Perhaps in death.”

Excerpt from the book “Understanding depression”- Patricia Ainsworth, M.D.

The stigma that kills

(Take a moment and think about this: what happens when you’re in a relationship and your partner dies? What do you do? In our part of the world where there are various misconceptions about relationships, how do you handle such a loss?).

It was the beginning of an academic year and her boyfriend had passed away, her world seemed empty, she was sad and devastated. Not a member of her boyfriend’s family knew about her or her relationship with the deceased. She joined the friends and classmates category just like everyone else and even in school where people knew of their relationship, it was no different than whispers and fingers being pointed at her as the girl who’d lost her boyfriend.
Martha was surrounded by people, yet she was lonely. She had so many thoughts and could hardly concentrate. Martha was depressed and needed help, but who would help? Her friends thought she probably just needed time and space to grieve her loss, but none of them took a step to talk to her about how she really felt, but instead they were waiting for the worst to happen then they could say, “I saw this coming”, “I knew it”. What if she committed suicide in the end? Continue reading The stigma that kills