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Adequate sleep, good nutrition and exercise are key to maintaining good mental and physical health, says Dr. Olusegun Akinwotu, a consultant psychiatrist.
Akinwotu, who works at the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, Lagos State, made the assertion on Wednesday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos.

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According to him: “We advice patients to avoid doing things that can keep them awake all night.

“Because, when they are not able to sleep well, they are exposed to higher risk of breaking down with mental illness.

“They just find out subsequently that their behaviour changes because they have not been able to rest well.

“Also, once a person eats well and is able to have balanced diet, it helps to promote good mental health.

“Once a person has healthy factors that promote good health, they are likely to remain mentally fit and healthy.”

The consultant psychiatrist said the major cause of mental illness was hereditary, adding that this was common in people whose relatives had it before.

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Akinwotu, therefore, urged people with a genetic predisposition to mental illness to avoid stressful life events that could trigger the illness.

He said: “When someone has a genetic predisposition, and if that person is exposed to stressful life events, it is imperative that he or she should be given necessary support.

“Such person should see psychiatrist to ensure that stress does not have negative effect on his or her health.”

Akinwotu said stigma was still a big challenge in the mental health advocacy in Nigeria.

He said mental illness was treatable if presented early at the hospital and if patients could comply with the prescribed medications.

He said: “Advocacy is key at all levels; people need to be aware that mental illness is treatable.

“Also, there is need for people to stop stigmatizing people with mental disorder as people with it did not put it on themselves.

“People should show love and support for people with mental illness.”

Harvard Health Publication says: “Sleep problems are particularly common in patients with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

“Traditionally, clinicians treating patients with psychiatric disorders have viewed insomnia and other sleep disorders as symptoms.”


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