CATHERINE MUMBA, Lusaka
CHAINAMA Hills Hospital says losing an election can lead someone into serious depression, which may sometimes cause anger if not well-managed.
Such people, the institution says, need treatment as early as possible for them to come out of the depression.
Zambia joins the rest of the world in commemorating World Health Day and National Health Day on April 7 under the theme â€˜Depressionâ€™.
Hospital principal clinical officer for psychiatry William Phiri said in an interview in Lusaka yesterday that the â€˜illnessâ€™ could only be treated if the patient realises and accepts that they need medical attention.
Mr Phiri said such conditions are referred to as â€˜mood disordersâ€™.
â€œIf the mood disorders continue after two weeks from the time of the elections, then we can say the person is depressed.
â€œWhen a person loses an election, of course they were expecting to win and itâ€™s not just an election that they have lost but a lot more,â€ he said.
Mr Phiri said the depression comes in because people get into an election with high expectations.
â€œMoney could have been spent and also the thought of going back to square one,â€ he said.
Mr Phiri said the thought of losing the prestige that comes with being a leader at any electoral level might also cause a loss of self-esteem.
â€œWhen someone is depressed because of the loss of an election, the signs may be that a person is likely to withdraw themselves from the social gatherings which they used to assemble with in the past, loss of interest even in elections themselves, loss of appetite and insomnia [lack of sleep],â€ he said.
Mr Phiri said if the depression becomes serious, some might even contemplate suicide, hence the need for them to seek medical attention at an early stage.
â€œHow do you seek help? It is not me to come and fish you out, but it starts with the victim realising that they need help because if you are not going to seek medical attention, the possibility of committing suicide is very high.
â€œSome even lose interest in sexual activities and some peopleâ€™s businesses go down, too,â€ Mr Phiri said.
He said there are psychological and social aspects that are considered to treat such people.
Mr Phiri said victims of depression caused by electoral defeat might be put on medication to alleviate the symptoms, after which cognitive behavioural therapy is applied on them so that they come to terms with and accept the situation they are currently in.
â€œWe look at what other people in other countries have gone through after losing an election.
â€œFor isolation, we start organising conferences and make the victim chair them so that they feel the same importance they could have felt had they won the election,â€ Mr Phiri said.
CATHERINE MUMBA, Lusaka