Depression is something we all experience in our lives, irrespective of race, social standing or wealth.
It is a condition with extreme highs and lows, uniquely affecting the health of our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual lives. Sometimes depression affects us to a lesser degree and other times it can be longer lasting for periods of days, weeks, months or even years.
The root and crisis
Statistics show that approximately 27% of South Africans are reported to have sought and received treatment for depression, with a staggering three-quarters of South African sufferers having no access to any form of emotional-mental health care.
Unfortunately, due to the stigma associated to mental health, many sufferers refuse to seek any means of assistance or liberation from their situation.
Studies reveal the poor state of mental health in South Africa.
The South African Depressions Anxiety Group (SADAG) revealed in 2019 as many as one in six South Africans suffer from various levels of anxiety, depression or substance related uses. These statistics do not include the more serious conditions such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia,
SASOP (the South African Society of Psychiatrists) believes up to 6 million South Africans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder due to crime and accident related.
UCT’s Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health research reveals over 40% of people living with HIV in South Africa have a diagnosable mental disorder. It was revealed that low-income and informal settlements surrounding Cape Town with low-income revealed that one in three women suffer from postnatal depression. Another study revealed in rural areas in KwaZulu-Natal 41% of pregnant women are depressed. This means that more than three times higher than developed countries.
In Zulu for example, there is no word for ‘depression’ – it’s not recognised as an imbalance or deficiency of positivity. As a result; sufferers are discriminated against, abandoned or disowned by those closest to them, as there are usually no physical symptoms related to the illnesses. A commonly held belief, is that depression it is a figment of their imagination, or that they are weak or dangerous.
The first line of defence
When we are going through a tough time it is normal to feel a range of emotions. These emotions may be excessive sadness, grief or anger or fluctuations of extreme joy to extreme sadness and can even induce a flight or fight response for survival.
People are often not aware they are suffering from depression, when they do realise it, often they are not sure where to go or who to speak to for assistance.
The first step in combatting depression is to reach out to those closest to you, whether they are friends or family, people that will be there for you and support you.
There is also no reason to isolate yourself, as their support, love, nurturing and understanding will allow you to end the suffering and to become liberated from being fearful, scared, guilty, ashamed, angry, sad or misunderstood.
What are the causes?
While we don’t know exactly what causes depression, several things are often linked to its development. Depression usually results from a combination of recent events and other longer-term or personal factors, rather than one immediate issue or event.
- Due to hormonal imbalances depression may set in
- Flight or fight response due to your environment.
- Symptoms may consist of:
- anxiety, excessive personality disorder / addictive personality types, financial difficulty, heartbreak, highs to lows emotionally, inner and outer turmoil, insomnia, OCD, worry and various levels of depression.
- Fluctuating levels of anxiety result in loss of joy, calm, sleep, becoming disassociated from one’s self.
- Heightened perceived levels of any past or present negative experiences i.e. shock, trauma, fear and drama.
- Physical-mental-emotional-sexual-spiritual abuse, worry, fluctuating stress levels.
- Many are unaware they are depressed, those who are aware often do not discuss it due to stigma as society believes it to be an illness.
- PTSD directly linked to depression, paralyzing expressions and experiences from the past.
- Situations may feel terrifying and torturous.
- Living with OCD, PTSD, phobias, anxiety, excessive emotions or depression.
Signs and symptoms
Shock, trauma, change in live style, sadness, rage, fear, guilt, shame and feeling miserable most of the time for more than two weeks will most often lead to loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities.
The following list below is a self-test check list, if you have experienced several symptoms from time to time it does not mean you are depressed. People who are depressed may not experience all these symptoms.
Depression checklist for Children, Adolescents and Adults
When you suspect you might be suffering from depression, go through the following check lists of the warning signs of depression. This won’t give you a diagnosis, but it will assist you in understanding in seeking the next step.
Facts and symptoms check list 1:
- Do you often feel very tired for no good reason?
- Do you often feel nervous?
- Do you feel so nervous that nothing could calm you down?
- Do you often feel hopeless?
- Do you often feel restless or fidgety?
- Do you often feel so restless you cannot sit still?
- Do you often feel depressed?
- Do you often feel that everything was an effort?
- Do you often feel so sad that nothing could cheer you up?
- Do you often feel worthless?
Facts and symptoms check list 2:
If you have experienced the following for a period of two weeks or more.
You are you often bothered:
- by feeling bad about yourself – or feeling that you are a failure, or that you have let yourself or your family down?
- by feeling sad, depressed, down, depressed, irritable, hopeless or angry?
- by feeling tired, or having little energy?
- by moving or speaking so slowly that other people could have noticed? Or the opposite – being so fidgety or restless that you were moving around a lot more than usual?
- by thoughts that you would be better off dead, or of hurting yourself in some way?
- by trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping too much?
- that you have limited interest, enthusiasm or pleasure in doing?
- that you have poor appetite, weight loss, overeating?
- that you have trouble concentrating on things like school work, reading, or watching TV?
- depressed mood most of the day / most days, feels sad, empty, appears tearful.
- diminished interest, pleasure in all or almost activities
- significant weight loss when not dieting - more than 5 percent of body weight in 4 weeks
- significant weight gain - more than 5 percent of body weight in 4 weeks
- decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day
- Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day
- Psychomotor agitation or retardation almost every day
Facts and symptoms for anxiety check list 3:
If you have experienced the following for a period of two weeks or more.
You are you often bothered:
- becoming easily annoyed or irritable?
- being so restless that it is hard to sit still?
- feeling afraid as if something awful might happen?
- feeling nervous, anxious or on edge?
- having trouble relaxing?
- not being able to stop or control worrying?
- worrying too much about different things, situations, people?
- Behavioural activation– therapist increases positive interactions between the patient and environment, pleasurable activities, symptoms of depression may be reduced.
- Problem-solving therapy- multiple solutions are offered, evaluating options to choose a solution.
- Hospitalization – observation, various methods applied, those in danger of hurting themselves and or others.
2. Medications / drugs – for more severe type of depression, if you are not responding to psychotherapy alone, an antidepressant may be prescribed, relief may take up to six weeks to work.
Medications – commonly prescribed
- Tricyclic antidepressants
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
- Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors
- Norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors
3. Electroconvulsive therapy - where medication and psychotherapy are not working.
4. Life coaching – utilizing tools to assist moving forward, may be tedious.
5. Hypnosis – changing negative belief patterns to positive. Getting the conscious and subconscious to think the same thing for positive outcomes.
6, Support - discussing practical solutions, educating family members.
7. Reiki – energy work to assist balancing the energies, eastern philosophy.
8. Energy medicine – flower essences, energy systems related to utilizing nature to bring balance to body-mind.
9. Tai-chi – moving meditation, cultivating internal life force.
10. Family or Couple Therapy – support offered as a collective.
11. Natural Depression Treatments include:
- Challenge - the lower thought forms known as negative thoughts and see them as only limited thoughts. Know you are more than one thought. Identify if you wish to hold onto the past thought that serves no one and let it go.
- Do something - that is out of your routine that honours you.
- Eat healthy – eat right, eat the foods that give your life, raw food is good.
- Exercise – start mild, build up as you go along.
- Get in a routine – healthy habits become natural.
- Get involved - in fun things, allow your inner child to explore and experience matters of the heart.
- Laugh - be involved in things that motivate you to laugh.
- Positive affirmations – changes your mood and invigorates you.
- Set goals - everything starts in the mid, manifestation starts there.
- Sleep – right sleep, sleep enough, quality sleep.
- Supplements – check with your doctor first. Some supplements are gentle and build you and your mood well.
- Take on responsibilities - get involved in matters that you feel stimulate your love, life, energy.
Depression can be temporary, or it can be a long-term challenge. The most important thing is to recognise the signs and symptoms and seek support.
Remember everyone’s different and it's often a combination of factors that can contribute to developing depression. That is why it is important you;
- Know the Signs and Symptoms of Depression
- Get Help for Depression
- Get the Right Depression Diagnosis
- Understand the Types of Depression Treatment
- Assess Your Depression Treatment
- Get Complete Care for Depression
Treatment doesn’t always make your depression go away completely. But treatment often makes symptoms more manageable and managing symptoms of depression involves finding the right combination of medications and therapies. If one treatment doesn’t work, you may have better results with a different one.
Throughout my many years of working with those with depression it is my opinion depression is not an illness, it is simply an imbalance which affects the hormones, through hypnosis many miraculous things are achieved.”
“I believe everything starts in the mind, to change we need to replace the negatives with positive solutions. Where the mind leads the body will follow.
Hypnosis is a very important key in achieving your potential. The power to your success lives and breathes in the subconscious mind. We take our power back when we are free from the past, to do that we need to elevate ourselves, this is achieved when we understand we have the power through our thoughts and suggestions.
About the Author
Dr John Souglides is a licensed and certified in Hypnotist, and a member of the International Medical and Dental Hypnotherapy Association, American Hypnosis Association and General Hypnotherapy Association.