Understanding Depression: A guide to what it is and when to seek help.
Everyone feels down from time to time. However, if this feeling persists for a prolonged period of time, of affects your day to day functioning, you may be suffering from depression.
According to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group depression affects approximately 4,5million or approximately 10% of South Africans. These statistics are probably not an accurate reflection of the severity of the problem in South Africa, as stigma around mental illness often stops people from seeking help for their difficulties.
Symptoms of Depression
Depression affects different people in different ways including:
low mood or sadness
feelings of hopeless or helpless
lack of confidence in ones own ability
feelings of guilt
irritability and intolerance
a decreased interest in things that once brought you pleasure
low motivation levels
difficulty making decisions
limited enjoyment out of life
thoughts about self-harm
moving slower than usual
speaking slower than usual
increased or decreased appetite
changes in weight
unexplained aches and pains
lack of energy
changes in sex drive
changes in menstrual cycle
feeling unrested when waking up
feeling run down
withdrawal from social activities (friend and family)
decreased performance at work
avoiding friends and family
inability to keep commitments
neglecting hobbies / interests
increased conflict in interpersonal relationships
When to seek help!
Although it is normal to feel down from time to time. Depression is a serious illness and if untreated can have a serious impact. It is not something that can be avoided, and will not go away if it is ignored. Even though it may be intimidating to seek professional help. If you have...
been feeling down or not yourself for two or more weeks
if it is interfering with your ability to function
if it is causing you to contemplate or plan to commit suicide
if you are contemplating or engaging in self harm.
then its time to seek help
Where to find help!
Depression often creates the feeling that you are alone, and that no one can help you. Please reach out, help is available. If this is you or someone you love please contact
A mental health care specialist such as a psychologist or psychiatrist
Your family doctor
The employment assistance program (EAP) at your office
Your local hospital or community clinic
If you are in a crisis and are needing help now you can contact the resources listed here