Depression in Africa: Causes and How Africa Can Conquer Depression

Africa is famous for its beauty, rich cultural diversity and enchanting landscapes. Unfortunately, depression is bedeviling the continent with statistics showing an increased number of depressed people across the continent. Even though depression is a widespread issue affecting all global citizens, depression levels in Africa are on the increase. There is need for the society, governments and relevant stakeholders to address depression on the continent as it has a profound negative effect on social, political and economic development.

According to recent statistics from Forbes, 14 out of 21 saddest countries in the world are African countries with Central African Republic named the saddest country due to lack of hope and high infant mortality rates. Africa has of late experienced unprecedented economic development which is expected to make the continent compete favorably for opportunities with other overseas continents.

With urbanization and improved economic prospects, an increasing number of African citizens are getting depressed. Depression manifests itself in various ways and symptoms vary from one to person to another. Unfortunately, depression on the continent has been blamed for triggering a number of diseases some of which are fatal. Happiness is a necessity for good health and prosperity. Africa has a good chance to deal with depression and ensure its effects are curtailed in good time.

Causes of Depression in Africa

Depressed people cannot be productive and this forestalls the continent’s economic development. Before tackling depression, it is important to know what causes depression. Some of the major cause of depression in Africa include:

Low Economic Status

As Africa continues to rise and become a hub for economic activity, significant sections of the population in many countries across the continent still live below the poverty line. Lack of financial empowerment causes depression as many households are unable to afford life’s most basic needs causing sadness and mental distress.

Lack of Employment

Unemployment is still a major problem in Africa especially amongst the youth and women who are unable to find gainful employment or entrepreneurship opportunities to generate income.  With so many idle and unemployed people, depression quickly sets in because of the inability to be independent.

High Infant Mortality Rate

High infant mortality rate has been a major cause of depression especially for African mothers who end up losing their young children to various diseases. This has been identified as a serious cause for concern especially in rural African populations where healthcare standards are way below an acceptable standard.

High Cost of Living

Economic growth across many African countries and cities has raised the cost of living standards putting a strain on many households that have to dig deeper into their pockets to afford products and services. A lot of people get depressed upon realizing they have to struggle to survive.

Inequality and Social Vices

The gap between the rich and poor continues to become wide with a perception of unequal distribution of resources which favors the rich and disenfranchises the poor. Social evils such as discrimination, nepotism and corruption have also contributed to the rising number of depressed people.


Even though Africa’s democracy continues to thrive, there are still parts of the continent suffering from civil strife and war. As a result of the human suffering and disruption of normal lives, populations living in war-torn regions suffer significant depression.

How Can Africa Address Depression and Foster Happy Populations?

The best news is depression can be addressed through consistent effort and cooperation between governments, private sector, civil society and the society at large. Obviously, African governments need to do more by putting in place favorable economic growth policies that ensure equitable resource distribution and empowerment of the entire population. Issues such as unemployment and women empowerment should take center-stage as well as creating a favorable environment for entrepreneurship.

Governments should also work to improve food security, healthcare, transportation, housing and infrastructure to have a happy population. Even as these efforts are spearheaded by government and the relevant development agencies, the society also has a role to play to reduce depression. Societal evils such as corruption, domestic violence, crime and unhygienic neighborhoods among others contribute to depression. Communities coexisting peacefully and working together to ensure better and safe living standards can significantly help to boost happiness and satisfaction.

By Nelly Gachanja

Scroll to Top

We are committed to Africa

Unlike many global publications, for nearly a decade we have been committed to showing a complete picture of Africa – not just a single story.  Offended by one-sided coverage of wars, disasters and disease, the founders of created a website that provides a balanced view of Africa – current events, business, arts & culture, travel, fashion, sports, information, development, and more.

Will you support us?