To get Inside the head of depression & anxiety we spoke to some of Newcastle’s leading professionals on the subject.
It is speculated that one in every 10 people will suffer from depression. Of that, only a quarter will try and get professional help. Whereas anxiety can affect anyone from children to adults.
“I think that anxiety is an increasing difficulty for many people throughout the world, including Newcastle. The causes of anxiety can be physical (genetic, brain chemistry, substance abuse) and/or socio-emotional (environmental, trauma, stress, loss)”, explains psychologist, Paul Bushell.
He emphasises that as the world becomes more complicated, so anxiety seems to be on the increase. “This is likely to increase in a world increasingly characterised by a lack of resources and environmental disasters, increased competition and on-going war, conflict and crime.”
But is mental health being treated accordingly in Newcastle and South Africa?
“In South Africa, mental health is not featured as a public health priority. But according to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), around a fifth of all South Africans will experience a depressive disorder at least once during their lifetime. The incidence of suicide in South Africa soaring to 23 people a day,” explains Sister Yolanda Bruin, Unit Manager of Kintsugi Centre, the psychiatric unit at Mediclinc Newcastle.
But how does one cope with anxiety and depression?
“Psychotherapy and medication are the best treatment modalities for anxiety. In therapy, adults and children can learn various coping mechanisms for dealing with anxiety. Mindfulness practices, which focus on techniques related to breathing, meditation, visualisation and affirmations have proved highly effective in the treatment of anxiety,” explained Bushell.
Bushell believes it’s imperative to seek help. “Untreated anxiety is very uncomfortable and can lead to serious disturbances to a person’s ability to lead a healthy and fulfilled life, at home and at school or work. There can be both physical and psychological consequences to this.”
Sr Bruin says that depression and anxiety can happen to anyone, at any time. It is therefore important to never classify yourself as weak and not seek help.
“SADAG describes depression as a highly treatable condition with the majority of patients responding to treatment and intervention, thereby experiencing relief from their symptoms. Treatment is available and can help most people who are affected by either anxiety or depression.
It is vital that a person affected by depression or anxiety get information about the problem, and the type of treatment available to them. Leaving these conditions unattended can negatively affect one’s relationships with family and friends, influence your ability to perform optimally at work or deal with work related stressors as well as affect your general health and wellbeing.”
But how do you recognise anxiety?
“Anxiety is what we call a mood disaster and is therefore primarily characterised by extended periods of an anxious or nervous-type mood, often where there is no clear reason or cause of the anxious feeling. These feelings can last for extended periods and cause significant disturbance to a person’s ability to perform at school or work and in their personal life. Panic attacks are a common part of anxiety.
Many people describe the feeling of a panic attack like having a heart attack. Panic attacks are characterised by a shortness in breathe, sweaty hands and feet, dizziness, trembling, nausea, chest pain and increased heart rate,” explains Bushell.
But adults are not the only people prone to anxiety. “Anxiety in children is increasing, and parents should be vigilant to the symptoms of anxiety in their children. Like with adults, the best treatment for children with anxiety is counselling and medication.”
Symptoms of depression include:
- Feeling sad, anxious or “empty” most of the time
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed
- Feeling hopeless about life
- Feeling helpless or guilty
- Changes in sleeping habits
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Loss of energy, feeling “slow” or fatigued
- Thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempts
- Restlessness, irritability, anger
For those who feel they need help, there is a huge beacon hope!
Mediclinic Newcastle’s Kintsugi Centre provides mental health services to people 18 years and older. “We treat voluntary patients, mostly with mood and anxiety disorders such as depression, bipolar disorders as well as post-traumatic stress disorders.”
At the centre, patients are provided with a safe, tranquil and caring environment with trained professionals working towards the promotion of their health, well-being and recovery. A doctor will refer people to a psychiatrist, who can in turn arrange with the unit if admittance is necessary.
The unit provides a number of services to help the patient recover. However, it is imperative that a person should always seek help if they feel that they are fighting against depression or anxiety. You are not alone.
SADAG contact numbers for patient support:
To find a Support Group in your area – 0800 21 22 23
Suicide Crisis Line – 0800 567 567
SADAG Mental Health Line – 011 234 483y
Life is a gift worth fighting for and your sanity is everything. Without it you cannot be the best version of yourself, therefore take charge of your mind as depression and anxiety are curable.