Depression: when to get help

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If you feel sad or “down” most days of the week for more than two weeks at a time, and experience any of the other symptoms of depression, you may need help.

Remember that depression often presents with a combination of symptoms, including:

  • Depressed mood
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities previously enjoyed
  • Decreased energy and fatigue
  • Reduced concentration and attention
  • Reduced self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Ideas of guilt and unworthiness
  • Bleak and pessimistic views of the future
  • Ideas or acts of self-harm or suicide
  • Disturbed sleep and diminished appetite

Don’t delay: make an appointment with your GP, family doctor or psychiatrist to get help, as even mild depression can become serious over time.

When someone you know is suicidal
The following factors point to an increased risk of suicide:

  • Extreme anxiety, agitation or angry behaviour
  • Excessive drug and/or alcohol use and abuse
  • History of physical or emotional illness
  • Talking about suicidal thoughts or ideas
  • Overwhelming feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • Speaking and moving at an unusually slow pace

Get help immediately and don’t leave the person alone. Call emergency services or the Suicide Crisis Line on 0800 567 567, or take the person to the nearest hospital.

Once you or your friend, colleague or loved one is on the road to recovery, a support group could be helpful. To find one in your area, call 0800 21 22 23. Another useful number to save on your phone is the SADAG Mental Health Line: +27 11 234 4837.

Reviewed by psychiatrist Dr Matthew Mausling, Life Kingsbury Hospital, Claremont. October 2018.

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