Depression

This page is dedicated to information about depression, including the contact details of support organisations for depression around the world. If you would like to read my own blog posts about depression, please check out the Depression category of posts in the list to the right of the Home page. To find out which depression-related blogs I am following, take a look at the Blogroll tab.

What is depression?

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), depression affects over 350 million people worldwide, making it the leading cause of disability globally. Although depression is a common mental disorder, it affects more women than men. Symptoms of depression include a sense of low self-worth, hopelessness, tiredness, sadness, and loss of interest or pleasure.  At its most severe, depression may lead to suicide. WHO estimates that a suicide occurs every 40 seconds and every 3 seconds an attempt is made.

Depression is NOT a weakness, a bad mood, a lack of character or something that you have made up in your head. It is a medical illness that can be effectively treated with talking therapies and, in severe cases, medication.

Depression in society

For a long time depression has been a taboo subject. When my failed suicide attempt made my depression public knowledge many friends of mine sent me messages saying that they suffered from depression too and had themselves been in therapy for years. None of us had spoken about our depression before, because we thought that we would be seen as neurotic or weak, yet depression is a very real and serious disorder. World Mental Health Day occurs annually on the 10th of October to raise awareness of mental health issues, including depression.

People everywhere are feeling increasingly overwhelmed by life, causing depression to be a major contributor to the global burden of disease (WHO, 2012). There has been a dramatic rise in teenage suicides, suggesting that teenagers in particular are under pressure. This pressure may be due to bullying, uncertainty about the future or conflict at home, all of which lead to depression.

I believe that teenagers should be educated about depression. The South African school curriculum includes “Life Orientation” or “Life Skills” as a subject and this forum should be used to teach teenagers how to cope if they are feeling unreasonably stressed. We need to break the public silence on depression and prepare our youth to recognise the warning signs. They need to know that they are not alone, their depression can be treated and where they can go to for help.

Support for depression

Below is a list of organisations that provide information and assistance to people with depression. I have focused on providing details for South African groups, as I am a South African citizen myself, but you can get in touch with your local World Health Organisation representative to find support in your own country.

World Health Organisation (WHO)
Information resources about Depression
Information resources about Suicide
Find your local representative: WHO countries list

LifeLine Southern Africa
Website: www.lifeline.org.za
National counselling line: 0861-322-322

South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG)
Website: www.sadac.org
Email: Zane Wilson (founder) for counselling queries
Suicide Crisis Line: 0800 567 567 or SMS 31393 (8am-8pm, every day)

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)
The DBSA is based in Chicago in the USA and its website provides information about depression and bipolar disorder, as well as how to get peer support online and in its local area.

Black Dog Institute
The Black Dog Institute’s website is a fantastic resource for research and education about depression and bipolar disorder. This is an Australian organisation.