Depression: do you know the signs?

Shutterstock
Mental health is defined by the World Health Organization as a state of well-being in which every individual realises their potential, copes with the life stress, works productively and contributes to their community.

But not all of us are created to deal well with seemingly easy aspects of everyday life that may include, but are not limited to:
  • Bereavement for the loss of a loved one
  • Relationship and work problems
  • Having just had a baby (postnatal depression)
  • Unemployment and financial woes
  • Accepting your own or a loved one’s sexuality
  • Crime

Anxiety and depression have become the most common mental health problems, both globally and in South Africa. And while the two may seem like opposites, they often go together and more than half of people diagnosed with depression also have anxiety.

But are you able to spot the signs when depression and anxiety take hold?

Depression

It is typically characterised by low self-esteem, low mood and loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities. When someone is depressed they will display on or more of the following symptoms:

  • Irritability or anxiety
  • Shifts in appetite and weight (too much or too little)
  • Sleep disorders, whether too much or too little
  • Constant fatigue and loss of energy
  • Physical symptoms that may include gastrointestinal problems, chronic pain, headaches etc.
  • Feelings of guilt, hopelessness, sadness or low of self-worth
  • Difficulty thinking, memory loss, poor concentration, difficulty making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Anxiety

It is considered a normal reaction to stress, and it can serve as a prompt to deal with difficult situations. However, when it becomes excessive, it may fall under the classification of an anxiety disorder.

When someone is anxious they will display on or more of the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue and headaches
  • Muscle tension and muscle aches
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Trembling and twitching
  • Irritability
  • Sweating and hot flashes

Once you have identified one or more of the symptoms, you can help by:

  • Being Supportive
    Your support is invaluable, but the affected person must be willing to get better.
  • Communicating
    You can do this by talking to the affected person about how they’re feeling.
  • Showing Empathy
    Try to understand and share the other person’s feelings and experiences.
  • Promote a healthy lifestyle
    You can help them cook healthy meals or encourage them to exercise and get out.
  • Really listening
    Most depressed people just want someone to listen to them.
  • Educating yourself
    Visit the clinic, doctor or counselor with the person and read more about their illness.
  • Being accommodating
    Don’t exclude the affected person from important matters or discussions.
  • Measuring your expectations
    Don’t expect the person to just "snap out of it".

One of the key roles you can play in the health of someone who is depressed or suffers from anxiety is to make sure they get the help they need. If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one and need help, speak to a trained counsellor.

(Photo of depressed woman from Shutterstock)

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
The ANC's leadership race is heating up. Who do you think will be elected party president at Nasrec in December?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has got it in the bag
7% - 526 votes
I foresee a second term for Cyril Ramaphosa
83% - 6478 votes
Don’t discount a Zweli Mkhize win
11% - 833 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
17.73
+0.6%
Rand - Pound
20.17
+0.2%
Rand - Euro
17.48
+0.3%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.59
+0.3%
Rand - Yen
0.12
+0.7%
Gold
1,706.01
+0.4%
Silver
21.01
+1.4%
Palladium
2,284.50
+2.7%
Platinum
917.50
+1.4%
Brent Crude
88.86
+4.2%
Top 40
57,850
0.0%
All Share
64,227
0.0%
Resource 10
61,646
0.0%
Industrial 25
77,524
0.0%
Financial 15
13,816
0.0%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE