Ndera Neuro-Psychiatric Teaching Hospital says it has recorded an increasing number of cases related to depression which has made the illness feature, for the first time, among the top five recorded mental illnesses. The hospital says that since the beginning of this year, it has received 7,817 patients battling depression compared to 1,743 recorded last year. Majority of the new cases are middle aged people between the ages of 20 to 39 years of age. “We are increasingly receiving patients suffering from depression and they are mainly young men,” said Dr. Bizoza Rutakayile, a senior consultant in Psychiatry. According to statistics from the hospital, 54 per cent of received patients were male while 46 per cent were female. Children under the age of 19 represent 20 per cent of the total number of patients. Bizoza added that, while causes of depression are not new in the country, there are new trends of social behaviours leading young people into depression. “My research of leading causes of depression in our country pointed at addiction to social media platforms as one of the major causes of the illness,” he explained, noting that, “there has not been any official research linking the two but still I believe social media is having a negative impact on young people.” Bizoza, who also doubles as the Head of Psychiatry Department at the hospital, said that excessive use of social media leads to self-isolation, which makes one lose their social connection eventually. Other top mental illnesses include schizophrenia, that has 35,581 cases reported this year, epilepsy with 13,337 cases, Acute and Transient Psychotic Disorders with 10,977 as well as bipolar disorders. Schizophrenia is an illness that makes one interpret reality abnormally while Acute and Transient Psychotic disorders are triggered by psychological stress. Despite the facility’s limited capacity, Bizoza said that overall, 96,357 patients were received this year accounting for 29.6 per cent increase compared to last year. Lack of ‘home care’ According to the hospital, the lack of residential home care facility for chronic patients persists as the hospital battles overcrowding. Most of them include those abandoned by their families, homeless people as well as foreign patients and refugees. According to Delphine Uwanyirigira, a psychiatric social worker who is in charge of chronic patients at the hospital, patients battling chronic medical illness are sometimes also battling with self-acceptance. “They know what they are capable of doing and how the illness has limited them. As a result they isolate themselves,” Uwanyirigira said.