October every year the world unites to raise awareness about mental health.
With one in five South Africans living with mental illness, the most common of
which is depression, awareness is important to decrease the stigma.
Living with depression as an older South
matriarch, particularly in a rural community, is a challenging task at the best
of times and can be exhausting and depressing. For one 62-year-old Diepsloot
resident, the burden of solving everyone else’s problems has become too much.
Sandile has recently discovered that her husband of over 30 years has been
cheating on her and has left. Her volatile son and his girlfriend both live
with her, but this is not a source of support.
fight they destroy not only each other but property as well,” says Sandile. She
recently had to replace all the windows that the two broke during a fight. “I
am always on the alert for the next incident.”
Her son and
his girlfriend are both unemployed and financially dependent on her – and now
her husband has left and will have nothing to do with their son. Sandile is
struggling to make ends meet. Her sister is the only person she can talk to
whenever she feels down or hopeless. “Sometimes I don’t know where to turn”
Help available: SADAG’s Facebook Friday
African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) will be creating an online
platform those who would like to learn more and get involved by hosting a
Facebook Friday chat on the 11th October on “Ask the Doctor on Mental Health,
Depression and the Elderly” with mental health experts at 1pm and again at 7pm.
- How to recognise and distinguish clinical
depression from other common ageing illnesses
- Where to go for help and treatment
- Ways of coping and managing depression
- How to start a support group in your
Isolation kills; support is key
show that elders who have a support network are more likely to pull through a
depressive episode than those who are isolated. After attending a SADAG support
group meeting for the elderly in Diepsloot, Sandile feels that she has finally
found a place where she is able to share her problems and get the help she
listen and I realised that I am not alone - so many other women are dealing
with issues like mine. We support each other and share advice. I feel I have
the Facebook online chat through the website www.sadag.org or by logging into
our Facebook Page “The South African Depression and Anxiety Group’.
also be hosting talks and workshops across the country at retirement villages
and old age homes, equipping residents with valuable information on coping with
is a physical disorder of the brain that impacts over 20 million adults
throughout the world and affects more than 6.5 million individuals over the age
patients are more likely to seek treatment for physical ailments than they are
to seek treatment for depression. Sadly, depression in elderly people often
goes un-recognised and untreated.
increasing age comes major life changes, retirement, loss of health and
mobility, the loss of social support, loneliness, isolation, the death of loved
ones and financial burdens. Because of these changes, doctors and family may
miss the signs of depression. As a result, effective treatment often gets
delayed, forcing many elderly people to endure an unnecessarily long struggle
areas, depression in the elderly can be a significant problem as many live
under with great stress brought about by having to take care of a large family,
poverty, burden of disease, living on a government grant supporting many family
members, or, in some cases, being kept with the family just for their pensions.
telephonic counselling for yourself or a loved one who may be experiencing
depression or feeling suicidal please contact SADAG on 0800 21 22 23, sms 31393
or visit our website www.sadag.org for more information, brochures or articles
on depression and other mental health illnesses. We are open 7 days per week from 8am to 8pm.
Common Depressive Symptoms experienced by the
- Jumpiness or tiredness, lethargy,
fatigue or loss of energy
- Loss or increase in appetite or
- Sleep changes such as insomnia or
sleeping more than usual
- Decreased ability to think,
concentrate or make decisions
- Repeated thoughts of death or
suicide, and suicide attempts
- Aches and pains, constipation, or
other physical problems that cannot otherwise be explained
- Confusion or disorientation
- Memory loss, loss of recent or
- Problems maintaining the home
- Trouble handling their finances