Depression and mood disorders

Depression and other Mood Disorders

Depression can be described as feeling sad, blue, unhappy, miserable, or down. Most of us feel this way at one time or another for short periods, however, clinical depression is a mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration interfere with everyday life for weeks or more.

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Symptoms of depression include the following:

  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
  • Loss of interest in daily activities
  • Appetite or weight changes
  • Sleep changes
  • Anger or irritabilit
  • Loss of energy
  • Self-loathing
  • Reckless behaviour 
  • Concentration problems
  • Unexplained aches and pains

Depression is widely experienced throughout the Western world today and as a result, suicide rates are increasing. According to WHO, a suicide occurs every 40 seconds and an attempt is made every 3 seconds. In South Africa 60% of people who commit suicide are depressed and the suicide rate for children aged 10 – 14 years old has more than doubled over the last fifteen years.

Risk factors for suicide among the young include the presence of mental illness, especially depression, conduct disorder, alcohol and drug abuse, as well as previous suicide attempts and the availability of firearms in the home.

Warning signs of suicide:

  • Talking about killing or harming one’s self
  • Expressing strong feelings of hopelessness or being trapped
  • An unusual preoccupation with death or dying
  • Acting recklessly (e.g. speeding through red lights)
  • Calling or visiting people to say goodbye
  • Saying things like “Everyone would be better off without me” or “I want out”
  • A sudden switch from being extremely depressed to acting calm and happy

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