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Recognising the signs of depression

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Health Knowing the signs that you may be depressed

A startling statistic is that around one fifth of all South Africans will, at some point in their lives, suffer from depression. What’s even more startling is that almost 60% of those suffering from depression won’t seek treatment. That’s why knowing the signs and symptoms of depression can help you or a loved one who might be going through a tough time.

People sometimes use the word depression loosely to describe a tough week or a bad experience they might have had. But deep depression is much more than just that.

Depression evokes negative emotions like feelings of worthlessness, self-hate, anxiety, inappropriate guilt and hopelessness which can negatively affect your day-to-day life.

Familiarising yourself with the habits often associated with depression may help you when it’s time to seek help.

Here are five signs of depression to look out for:

1 Lost interest

People who suffer from depression may lose interest in things they previously might have taken pleasure in. Suddenly losing interest in things you once loved like sports, hobbies or going out with friends is a telltale sign of depression.

2 Sleep deprivation

Depression is sometimes linked to insomnia and might cause you to toss and turn all night.
Not getting enough sleep can lead to extreme fatigue and anxiety.

The lack of sleep can then evoke an intense feeling of tiredness which can also lead to people not wanting to do the things they previously loved.

3 Appetite and weight change

Depression affects different people in different ways. Some people might experience an increase in appetite which could cause sudden weight gain. Putting on a few kilos might also affect your emotions and self-worth and can further lead to depression.

Other people might lose their appetite when they become depressed which can be very dangerous. Not eating enough can lead to sudden weight loss and not being able to provide your body with the necessary vitamins and minerals it needs to function.

4 Fluctuating or uncontrollable emotions

Another sign of depression can be a person’s outburst of emotion. This refers to sudden spells of anger, sadness or happiness. Depression can cause sudden moods swings without notice.

5 Considering suicide

Unfortunately, in extreme cases of depression, people may look at death as the only way to cope with their deep unhappiness. Experiencing thoughts of suicide or noticing someone’s sudden interest in it may be a red flag and will need professional attention as soon as possible.

Getting help

If you suspect that you or a loved one might be suffering from depression, it’s very important to reach out to someone.

Here are a few options of individuals or professionals you can reach out to:

Speak to a person in authority: If you’re young and suspect you might be depressed, speak to a teacher, parent or another person in authority.

Talk to your doctor: You can speak to your GP about your feelings of depression and they will direct you to the necessary channels to get the assistance you need.

Contact The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG): SADAG is Africa's largest mental health support and advocacy group. They’re committed to quality counselling, outreach and capacity building work throughout South Africa. Contact SADAG’s 24-hour national helpline at 080 012 1314.

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