Mental and nutrition health experts have said that the rising cost of living crisis facing Nigerian families is placing heavy stress on them, warning that this could expose more people to physical and mental health problems.
According to experts, economic stress and lack of access to healthy foods can predispose citizens to depression, peptic ulcer diseases, sleep disorders, more frequent asthmatic attacks, and migrainous headaches.
The experts noted that Nigerians should pay more attention to their health and well-being in this period, more now than ever, stressing that it could help them prevent serious health issues.
In an exclusive interview with PUNCH Healthwise, the President of the Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria, Prof. Taiwo Obando said the economic situation had made people think a lot without solutions.
The Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Jos said, “The rising inflation can impact the mental health of Nigerians, particularly in people at risk or predisposed to developing depression. Those are people who have not developed resilience.
“When some people are not able to meet their needs and obligations and are not able to think up ways out of the ‘mess’, a cascade of faulty cognitive processes sets in.
“People find themselves thinking a lot without solutions. Feeling or having a sense of failure. Thought of death (suicidal behavior) may set in.
“There would then be a downward spiral in the people’s thoughts, emotions, and behavior.”
The psychiatrist said Nigerians may begin to contend with physical and mental health problems when they are unable to meet up with the necessities of life. Some of the physical health conditions that could arise from the situation according to him include elevated blood pressure or poorly controlled BP despite taking medication.
“Glucose intolerance or diabetes mellitus or poor sugar control, peptic ulcer diseases, more frequent asthmatic attacks or development of asthma, migraineurs headaches or tension headaches.
“Others are irritable bowel syndrome or ulcerative colitis, recurrence of catarrh, and upper respiratory tract infection due to lowered immunity, acne, pimples, or other skin lesions,” he said.
Prof. Obindo pointed out that many mental illnesses may develop from rising living costs depending on the vulnerability or risks.
According to him, the commonest ones include anxiety disorders, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, acute stress reactions, adjustment disorders, depression, and sleep disorders.