Let’s talk depression

World Health Day is celebrated on the 7th of April to mark the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organisation. This year’s theme is “Let’s Talk: Depression.”

One in three South Africans will or do suffer from a mental illness in their lifetime – and depression is the most common mental illness. About one in six South Africans suffer from depression – although only about a quarter of people living with a mental illness ever seek or receive treatment.

Depression is the leading cause of suicide and, in South Africa, there are 23 completed suicides every day – and a further 460 attempted suicides every 24 hours. “Men are more likely to commit suicide than women as they don’t seek help until it’s too late,” said the South African Depression and Anxiety Group’s (SADAG) Director, Cassey Chambers.

It may not always be easy to tell the difference between a run-of-the-mill bad mood and depression. If you have five or more of these symptoms for most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks, and the symptoms are severe enough to interfere with your daily activities, you may have depression:

  • Depressed mood, sadness or an ‘empty’ feeling or appearing sad or tearful to others.
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you once enjoyed.
  • Significant weight loss when not dieting, or significant weight gain.
  • Inability to sleep or excessive sleeping, always feeling exhausted.
  • Restlessness or irritation (irritable mood may be a symptom in children or adolescents   too), or feelings of ‘dragging’.
  • Fatigue or loss of energy.
  • Feelings of worthlessness, or excessive or inappropriate guilt.
  • Difficulty thinking or concentrating, or indecisiveness.
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.

Depression affects people of all ages, from all walks of life and negatively impacts a sufferer’s ability to carry out everyday tasks. Depression has consequences for families, friends, workplaces, communities, and healthcare systems. Untreated depression can lead to self-injury and suicide. SADAG, like the WHO, believes that educating people about depression can reduce the stigma that surrounds mental illnesses and encourage more people to seek help.

We all have days when we want to hide under the covers and wish the world would leave us alone; days when we feel precariously on the verge of tears or an angry outburst. Minor things can trigger a bad day: having a squabble with a friend or colleague, getting stuck in traffic, or just waking up on the wrong side of the bed. Off-days happen to everyone, but when a bad day turns into a bad month, it’s time to take a closer look at your mood. It’s time to talk depression.

This year, for World Health Day, SADAG aided the whole of South Africa to talk about depression, using the following tools:

  • New online videos from actress and celebrity Lillian Dube sharing her experience with depression; Dr Frans Korb discussing depression in men; Dr Chabalala sharing information on depression in the elderly; psychologist Zamo Mbele giving tips on coping with depression as well as support group leaders Sheila and Thuli talking about how you can benefit by joining a local support group. Visit www.sadag.org to watch these videos, which were launched on Friday 07 April.
  • SADAG hosted a FREE Online #FacebookFriday Q&A Chat on “Let’s Talk: Depression” with psychologist, Liane Lurie at 1-2pm and again at 7-8pm with psychologist, Linda Blokland. Participates asked questions regarding depression diagnosis, symptoms, treatment plans as well as how to get help and support. Visit our Facebook Page “The South African Depression and Anxiety Group”.

This year’s World Health Day theme gives us a unique opportunity as the global community to talk about a health topic that concerns us all. Depression can be treated and suicide can be prevented. The more we understand about depression and suicide, the better we can help our communities.

In a country where access and services for people suffering with mental health issues is scarce, SADAG provides an invaluable service through their counselling call centre offering free telephonic counselling, referrals, information and support, as well as through various projects including school talks, rural outreach programmes, corporate talks and training.

To speak to a SADAG counsellor, call 0800 21 22 23 or SMS 31393 if you or a loved one are going through depression and need help.

SADAG is a mental health advocacy group, running a call centre with 15 helplines offering free telephonic counselling seven days a week, 365 days a year, and runs the only Suicide Crisis Helpline (0800 567 567) in the country. SADAG gives referrals nationwide, as well as information and support for all mental health issues encouraging people to speak out and get help.

Important SADAG Numbers:

SADAG Helpline – 0800 21 22 23

Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0800 70 80 90

24 Hours Substance Abuse Helpline – 0800 567 567

SMS – 31393

facebook Website – www.sadag.org

Article written by SADAG