Depression: Young widows’ nightmare

By Taiye Elebiyo-Edeni

A widow, simply identified as Folake, became depressed after losing her husband three years ago and she has to cater for her three children almost alone.

Folake, 27, is among many young widows suffering from depression who realise that the condition may eventually put an end to her existence.

According to her, loneliness, grief, deep thought of taking care of the children, financial burden, unforeseen circumstances, rejection from both families, friends and colleagues, among others, cause depression for widows.

“Further to that, there are stigmatisation, fear of the unknown, and isolation, in most cases; you are so pained in horrible situations without a confidant.

“Sometimes you have nothing left in the house to eat and everyone you contact gives a negative reply, you look at the children, look around and begin to wonder what the future holds for you; it is terrible,” Folake said.

Perceptive observers note that over the years, young widows are faced with various challenges ranging from rejection, stigmatisation, career loss, depression, loss of self-esteem, child’s care and property loss.

In a survey, 63 young widows explain the major challenges they face and how they cope with the situation.

In their separate responses, 88.5 per cent of the respondents say they are depressed, 63.9 per cent of them report experiencing low self-esteem, while 52.5 per cent of the respondents complain challenges in child’s care.

Similarly, 37.7 per cent of the respondents said they lost their property, 18 per cent of them alleged that they were rejected by spouse family, 6.6 per cent of them reported career loss and 4.9 per cent of the respondent said they were stigimatised.

Mrs Ene Okolo, 26, said that widows were depressed in so many ways such as when they were threatened by the deceased family over property and money he left in his bank accounts.

“I was left to do the burial of my husband alone and foot the bills of my children education; and when I refused to get re-married to my brother in-law, they told me I would come back crying.

“Nine months after, my only son was crushed to death, did I not come back crying? Now, am always unhappy, lost the confidence to live as bills keep coming,” she said.

Mrs Shola Oluwanuga, Chief Consultant Psychiatrist with National Hospital, Abuja, said “depression is a mood disorder that primarily affects the person’s mood.

She said that a person suffering from depression would always be unhappy, noting that some people who did not enjoy a life he or she expected could be depressed.

“If a person is just recently bereaved, they could be unhappy, they could be crying a lot, they may not sleep well; such a person is not depressed yet, the person is just going through grief.

“But when a person is bereaved and you expect him or her, within three to six months, to start reintegrating and carrying on with normal life but it is not so, then depression has set in.

“If he or she lacks energy, interest in things that are happening around, poor appetite, poor sleep beyond six months of bereavement, you may need to look at it as depression,” she observed.

She, however, advised that if a bereaved was in a sad mood, lack of interest in things that are happening around that usually interest him and lack of energy beyond six months of mourning, he should seek medical help.

Oluwanuga, nonetheless, observed that some widows might suffer mild depression that only required counseling.

She advised family and friends to understand and be confidants to those suffering mild depression which might serve as immediate intervention in the onset of depression.

But young widows insist that widowhood rights in the country are in short supply as almost every respondent agrees that 95.2 per cent of young widows do not have rights that could address the plight of widows.

However, 4.8 per cent of the widows noted that the Federal Government has a strong widowhood rights in the country.

Mrs Damilola Adams, 29, said that the widow’s rights in Nigeria were not enforceable by law, stating that it was the reason for the widows’ nightmare.

She said that nothing was done constitutionally to abolish treatments against the widows, insisting that only governments and stakeholders could create lasting solution to the challenges.

“To resolve the challenges, governments and all religious bodies must always act, preach against it and detest bad attitudes to widows,” she said.

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