A Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Grace Ijarogbe, on Wednesday identified stress as a major cause of diseases in Nigeria.
Ijarogbe, who works with the Federal Neuro-psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, spoke in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
The expert said that stress was a risk factor for depression and mental health problems which could lead to suicide.
She said that mental health problems were among the most important contributors to the burden of diseases and disability worldwide.
According to her, it is important for Nigerians to know how to prevent and manage stress in order to ensure their wellbeings.
She explained that when one failed in handling his or her body, stress could set in.
“Stress is the reason why we fall sick and the major cause of stress is psyche disharmony, because if you don’t know how to handle your body, stress will come in.
“Studies have found many health problems related to stress.
“The physical problems related to chronic stress include lowering of the immune response, chronic muscle tension and increased blood pressure,’’ she said.
The psychiatrist said that these problems could eventually lead to serious life-threatening illnesses such as heart disease, kidney disease, cancer, diabetes, gastrointestinal problems, asthma, among others.
She advised that people should understand their body system and avoid sickness, as most diseases were high blood pressure and diabetes-related.
According to Ijarogbe, Nigerians, particularly Lagos residents, undergo a lot of stress, which can result in depression or even mental health problems, if not properly managed.
“To manage and cope with stress, Nigerians must develop entrepreneurial mindset.
“They must learn to set realistic goals as many do set unrealistic targets and stress themselves in a bid to actualise them.
“There is also the need to set limit to workloads, go on vacation and ensure one sleeps at least eight hours in a day.
“Life is not meant to be taken seriously. So, enjoy your life while you can,’’ Ijarogbe advised.
Also, the President, Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) at the hospital, Dr Kabirat Kilanse-Oni, urged Lagos State Government to ensure provision of basic social amenities to enhance living standards of residents as a way of easing their stress.
Kilanse-Oni said that the traffic gridlock and bad roads in Lagos were the major causes of stress and depression among residents of the state.
According to her, economic hardship in the country is another factor that has made many Nigerians to develop depression and be stressed out.
“When someone is under stress, it begins to negatively affect his or her physical and mental health.
“Many people encounter stress from multiple sources, including workplace, financial challenges, health and relationship worries.
“If the government can provide the needed amenities, particularly the road network system, such that limited time will be spent on the roads, productivity and health condition of the residents will improve.
“This will consequently enhance the economic development of the state and that of the country at large,’’ Kilanse-Oni said.