Identifying depression … before it’s too late

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“I never even knew he/ she was depressed.” How often do you hear these words after someone has committed suicide? But ask yourself these questions: What could I have done to prevent this? What symptoms must I look out for?

Before you can answer those questions, you first need to understand the many causes of depression.

According to, trauma, grief, financial troubles and unemployment are just a few of these causes. Here are some surprising causes people rarely think of:
• Seasonal affective disorder – also known as winter depression, winter blues, summer depression, SAD syndrome and seasonal depression is a mood disorder in which people with normal mental health experience depression due to a certain season.
• Smoking has long been linked with depression, although it seems to be a chicken or egg scenario: People who are depression-prone may be more likely to take up the habit.
• Thyroid disease: When the thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland in the neck, doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone, it’s known as hypothyroidism, and depression is one of its symptoms.
• Poor sleeping habits can also contribute to depression. “If you don’t sleep, you don’t have time to replenish [brain cells], the brain stops functioning well, and [this becomes] one of the many factors that could lead to depression,” said Matthew Edlund, MD, director of the Center for Circadian Medicine in Sarasota, USA.
• Facebook overload: Spending too much time in chat rooms and on social-networking sites has been suggested as contributing to depression, particularly in teens and preteens, according to a number of studies. gives these helpful tips to identify depression:

• Not going out anymore
• Not getting things done at work/ school
• Withdrawing from close family and friends
• Relying on alcohol and sedatives
• Not doing usual enjoyable activities

Feelings of being overwhelmed, feeling guilty, irritable, frustrated, lacking in confidence and a general feeling of being sad are also linked to depression.

People suffering from depression may also think they are failures, that everything is their fault and feel worthlessness.

Physical symptoms of depression may include the following:
• Constantly being tired
• Being sick and run-down
• Headaches and muscle pains
• Sleep problems and loss of appetite.

It is important to know that depression can be treated with the correct medication. If you think you may be suffering from depression, it would be wise to consult with your GP or a psychologist as soon as possible.

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Michelle Swart
Digital Coordinator

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