Depression is the most common cause of disability in South Africa. It is reported that those who suffer with depression will initially experience it in their late teens or early twenties.
Age, culture or gender could potentially change the way one experiences depression; however, most forms of depression would include the following symptoms:
- Frequent crying and bouts of sadness
- Feeling hopeless or worthless
- Getting too much or too little sleep
- Difficulty enjoying activities one used to like
- Unexplained physical ailments such as headaches or muscle pain
- Difficulty concentrating
- Changes in weight or eating habits
- Thoughts of suicide
It is common when a person is struggling with depression that they experience challenges when dealing with daily life stressors. Even the simplest of life tasks can feel impossible. These symptoms can make an individual feel isolated, lonely and helpless. Even the most beautiful and enjoyable of life’s experiences can be cast into darkness when an individual is suffering from depression.
Health Care Professionals agree that chemistry in one’s brain plays a significant part in depression. Dopamine and Serotonin are feel-good chemicals which allow us to experience pleasure. Through a shortage of these chemicals or through the brain not processing these chemicals correctly, depression can result. External life stressors can also cause changes in the brain which also lead to depression
Woman are often diagnosed with depression more than men and there are schools of thought that believe that this is due to the fact that men are less likely to seek assistance or ask for help as talking about one’s feelings presents as a weakness. It is also widely held that depression in men may present differently to that in women. Men do not want to show vulnerability and therefore do not show their depression as sadness, but rather as anger and will engage in high risk acting out behaviour to mask the symptoms e.g. sexual affairs or substance abuse.