Depression is Real

Depression is one of the illnesses that affects people with mental health issues. Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest; it is the leading cause of disability worldwide.

Depression is common in South Africa and it affects people from all ages, but nearly 50% of affected individuals first experience depression between the ages of 20 and 50.

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A report by the South African Federation for Mental Health (SAFMH) reveals that about 20% of South Africans will experience a depression disorder at least once in their lifetime.

Depression is misunderstood in our communities, particularly among Black people due to the stereotypes associated with it and it is the sickness that many people in South Africa are battling with daily.

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There are many factors that are contributing to depression. These include bad childhood experiences like abuse, poverty, job loss, death of a loved one. A family history of depression may increase the risk of having depression.

Feeling lonely or isolated can also lead to depression. Depression can affect a person’s ability to carry out even the simplest everyday tasks, with sometimes devastating consequences for relationships with family and friends, as well as the ability to function at school or work.

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Symptoms like aggression, a loss of interest in regular activities, an inability to concentrate and even headaches and muscle pains are common among people suffering from depression.

People who suffer from depression may also be diagnosed with bipolar disorder in which symptoms are feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness, angry outbursts, sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much. Feelings of worthlessness or feeling guilty about past failures or self-blame.

Depression can, however, be treated and there are several treatment options for depression. Determining which treatment is appropriate for each person is done by mental health professionals. Many people are able to recover from depression and live healthy lives after taking their treatment correctly.

Some treatments include:

  • Psychological treatments or talk therapy: This works by helping your brain to control your thoughts and emotions.
  • Medication: This helps the brain correct the functioning of its emotional control circuits. Most often, people with depression will be treated with both medication and psychotherapy medication.
  • Healthy lifestyle: Maintaining a healthy, regular daily routine is very important for a person with depression.

In order to end stereotypes about depression, people need to be educated about depression. That can be achieved when we speak openly and honestly about depression.

Families or friends of the people who are diagnosed with depression must always support them and they should not feel lonely or isolated around them.

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If you notice anyone who is suffering from depression, you can assist them by talking or listening to them without judging them. If you think you have depression, seek help immediately, depression is not a death sentence.

If you need help with depression the South African Federation for Mental Health (SAFMH) can assist you. You can call them on 011 781 1852086 558 6909 or send an email at

Source: South African Federation for Mental Health

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