The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) says one in six South Africans is battling depression. One such person is Dineo Mogale, a young professional diagnosed with depression, who opened up about her struggle at a recent #BreakingDepression virtual media event where she described living with depression as “debilitating” to the point where it’s impossible to cope with daily activities. Dineo couldn’t get out of bed and wasn’t “emotionally or mentally available”. She struggled to concentrate at work, and even simple tasks felt huge. These feelings are more common than we might think – but there is help for depression out there.
What is depression?
Dr Lerato Dikobe-Kalane, a prominent psychiatrist in Cape Town, at the same event described depression as “more than just feeling blue, but a persistent low mood that affects how a person functions”. Dr Lerato suggests that if you (or someone you love) have persistent low energy, can’t focus, feel guilty, feel tired and or worthless, are sleeping too much or too little, you need to get help as soon as possible.
How to overcome depression
#BreakingDepression is possible, and help is available, but first you need to speak up when something is not right and when you’re not feeling healthy and happy. Dineo did just that after a long battle with depression. She decided to “get her life back”. After speaking to her doctor, who prescribed the right treatment, her life has changed for the better.
“I’m happy. I’ve seen a positive change in my life, and my mood is more stable.” With the right treatment, Dineo is now able to understand better her depression and reframe her internal negative dialogue. “When I feel something, I acknowledge it and move on. I don’t need to wallow in my negative emotions.”
Don’t suffer in silence, help is available
While there is much stigma and fear around depression and seeking medical help, people struggling with depression should take ownership of their mental health journey and reclaim their lives. It is possible to find joy and live a full, happy, and productive life again.
“Don’t be ashamed or afraid about getting the treatment you deserve,” says Cassey Chambers from the South African Depression and Anxiety Group. “That’s why we often link depression treatment to the Japanese art form known as Kintsugi, in which artists use gold to repair broken objects and in so doing, make the objects even more beautiful than before.” Cassey, better than most, understands how people struggling with depression often feel lost, but with the right treatment and support, they can feel stronger than ever before. “There is hope, and people with depression don’t have to suffer in silence,” Cassey says, urging all South Africans battling depression to talk to their doctors urgently.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, talk to your doctor. You can also learn about depression at Our Mental Health, a credible source of information that offers practical tools to help people with depression and other mental disorders such as ADHD or schizophrenia.