Dr Modupe Ladipo, Consultant Family Physician at the University College Hospital, (UCH), Ibadan, on Friday called on families to keep surveillance on people suspected to manifest signs of depression.
Ladipo made this call at one-day symposium held to mark the World Family Doctors’ Day at UCH, Ibadan.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme of the symposium was: “Curbing Depression.”
The symposium was organised by the Society of Family Physicians of Nigeria, Ibadan, Zone.
Ladipo said family medicine integrates a broad-spectrum approach to primary care while also serving as an advocate for the patient in an increasing complex health care system.
“Unlike other narrowly focused specialties, family medicine includes the biological, clinical, and behavioural sciences, encompassing all ages, sexes, each organ system and and every disease entity.
“The focus of a family physician is the whole person. They shepherd male and female patients of all ages through the complex health system, and coordinate the care of their health.
“By building relationships with their patients over time, family physicians are able to develop a comprehensive understanding of their patients’ health, and offer insightful, personal guidance and treatment.
“Family physician is the first line of doctors to come in contact with patients suffering depression.
“The rate at which depression is increasing in all age groups in the Nigerian population has become a thing of concern among family physicians and hence the topic for the symposium was birthed on this factor”, she said.
Ladipo also called on stakeholders to adopt the role of surveillance officers by monitoring, tracking and reporting cases of patients manifesting depression in their midst.
Dr Victor Makanjuola, Consultant Psychiatrist at the UCH, said depression was a common and serious medical illness, not a sign of weakness and could happen to anybody.
“Depression is treatable with talking therapies or anti-depressants or a combination of both.
“Symptoms of depression vary from person to person; and usually include feeling of sadness or low self esteem, hopelessness, feeling empty, and loss of sexual desires.
“Other common symptoms include loss of warm feelings for family and friends, feeling of guilt and self blame and unexplainable crying”, he said.
Makanjuola said that in diagnosing depression, any patient who manifests three or four of these symptoms could be termed as being depressed and could commit suicide.
He listed some means of suicide to include hanging, electrocution, drug overdose and slashing of the wrist veins.
He advised the families of the depressed and members of the public not to delay in reporting suspected cases of people manifesting depression syndromes.
The Chairman of the occasion, Mr Moses Alake Adeyemo, Deputy Governor of Oyo State described the theme of the symposium as very apt.
Adeyemo, represented by Dr Azeez Adeduntan, Oyo state Commissioner for Health, said “family physicians are very indispensable in the diagnosis and treatment of depression.
He charged the body of physicians on professionalism adding that they should always exercise caution in the discharge of their duties.
He advised them to know their limitations, no matter how well trained, they might be.
“There have been occasional reports of family physicians going outside their bounds. As a stakeholder, I counsel you that you should stay within your boundary.
The deputy governor said staying within their bounds would reduce errors which might later lead to complications.
He said Oyo government was happy about the theme, knowing full well that depression had been on the increase in Nigeria.
He said the symposium will shed light on how to know what depression is, its symptoms and diagnosis and how to seek professional help.
Adeyemo disclosed that there was a close collaboration between Oyo state government and the UCH, in improving the quality and standard of health care delivery in Oyo state.
He said the state government has opened a “Mental Health Desk” at the ministry of health where the public can report cases of people with depression.
The news Agency of Nigeria reports that the symposium was attended by representatives of the UCH community, members of the Society of Family Physicians of Nigeria staff of Ministry of Health.