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Risk factors for depression in Eritrea: a short research report

Muhur Abraha Bahta Lately St Mary’s Psychiatric Hospital, Asmara, Eritrea Mike Ramsay School of Nursing and Health Sciences, University of Dundee, Scotland Correspondence:


Depression is one of the most common mental health problems globally, and is characterised by the inability to enjoy life and experience pleasure (American Psychiatric Association, 2013; Ministry of Health, 2013).

It can lead to emotional and physical problems, and causes distress for the person with depression and friends and family who care for them. From this perspective it is reasonable to distinguish depression from occasional low mood because it is a constant feeling of sadness, worthlessness and a lack of aspiration to engage in formerly pleasurable behaviour.

Eritrea is experiencing an upward trend in the prevalence of depression over recent years, shown by increasing numbers presenting with suspected depression to the main hospital outpatient clinics, according to Eritrean Ministry of Health statistics (Ministry of Health, 2012).

This study seeks to develop a greater understanding of the risk factors for depression in adults in order that the Ministry of Health may be better able to respond to the need and that services and professionals can appreciate the factors of greatest risk to people under stress.

Such understandings may help develop services within the context of a modernising national economy and associated contemporary treatment and service response, yet with due regard and respect for the existence (especially in rural areas) of more traditional belief systems surrounding mental distress and its cultural accommodation within those communities.


Depression is a mood disorder, and mood refers to the protracted emotions that impact upon a person’s psychological wellbeing. Depressive disorders often begin at a young age; they decrease people’s functioning and often recur. Among the many mental health disorders that an individual can develop in their life cycle, depression has increased in more recent times (Jack-Ide, 2016).

Causes of depression

Although causal factors of depression vary, several factors can be correlated with its development. Usually, when exploring the course of depression, it does not result from a single event, but from a combination of events and other longer-term or personal issues. Tracy (2011) suggests that depression is non-distinct and it is often many things combined. Additionally, it involves all aspects of a person’s life by altering appetite, sleep patterns, interest in everyday activities, work productivity, and relationships with others (Feyera et al, 2015). Therefore, depression is a common and serious mental disorder, and those who suffer from it should have effective treatments available.

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About Mental Health Nursing

The new edition of Mental Health Nursing is now available, featuring a range of news, views and papers: - News on developments in mental health and mental health nursing - Examining the NHS Long Term Plan - The findings of the Mental Health Act review - A research report on risk factors for depression in Eritrea - Student focus on charity work - Standing up for the LGBT+ community - Interview with Jonathan Gadsby - Resource reviews