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Mental Health Matters Journal for Psychiatrists & GP's

MHM Volume5 Issue5

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depression speaking book

Literacy is a luxury that many of us take for granted.  We depend on written communication for information, guidance, and access to heath care information That is why SADAG created SPEAKING BOOKS and revolutionized the way information is delivered to low literacy communities. It's exactly what it sounds like.a book that talks to the reader in his or her local  language, delivering critical information in an interactive, and educational way.

The customizable 16-page book, accompanied by local celebrity audio recordings, ensures that vital health and social messages can be seen, heard, read and understood..

We started with books on Teen Suicide prevention , HIV, AIDS and Depression, Understanding Mental Health and have developed over 30 titles, such as TB, Malaria, Polio, Vaccines for over 30 countries.

suicide speaking book

One of the toughest things for parents is to watch their teenager descend into depression.

One of the toughest things for parents is to watch their teenager descend into depression. But how do you distinguish depression from normal teenage mood swings? Here's what you need to know By John Dunga HEY seem to be as near perfect a family as it's possible to be. The parents, both professionals, are in a loving, committed relationship and their three children are talented, good-looking and popular. Of course there have been wobblies but they were dealt with and smoothed out.
So when 17-year-old Sam*, the youngest child, started showing signs that all was not well in his world his parents weren't too concerned at first. "My husband Paul* and I always thought Sam was the most capable of our children so we never really worried about him," his mother Sue* says. "He'd always been an all-round achiever - he was good at rugby and swimming, he performed in school plays, sang in the choir, excelled at most subjects and had a huge group of friends." When he started withdrawing and spending more time alone she thought it was just a teenage phase - hormonal moodiness he'd grow out of. "Then I noticed he seemed to be losing weight and looked tired. His academic marks started dropping and he began to lose interest in school and his friends.
It was awful to watch this golden boy become bleak, forgetful and uncommunicative." Sam, in Grade 11 at the time, felt as if he was slipping away from them, Sue says — "like he was drifting off into a dark place all on his own". "It became a vicious cycle where no matter how hard he tried he never managed to get on top of his schoolwork — or anything in his life, really. We'd pressure him to keep up with his work but it made no difference. It was as if he was running on empty all the time.
He was making no progress and it was wearing him down." Sam was displaying signs of depression. "Teenage depression is not a 'feeling'," says Dr Gary Koen, a clinical psychologist from Cape Town who has worked with adolescents for 20 years. "In many ways it is an absence of feeling, a numbness that stifles feelings. In extreme cases it eats away at the teenager's life, leaving behind an empty shell." Sue realised her son needed help when a year after he first showed the symptoms she found him crying at his computer. "I can't take this any more," he said.
That's when we knew we had to get help for him," Sue says. "The decision was made easier when he came to me soon after that incident and said he wanted professional help." Sam has been in therapy for five months now and has also received help from two "wonderful" teachers at his school, his mother says. "He's really starting to turn the corner. This whole experience has certainly made him a stronger person and it's made us more aware of how the role of a parent never ends even when your kids seem almost grown up." SUE and Paul needn't beat themselves up about the fact they didn't act the moment they realised something was bothering their son, experts say. "The difference between a depressed teen and one who's merely unhappy is not clear at first," Dr Koen says. DrNeil McGibbon, a Cape Town-based clinical psychologist who works with adolescents, agrees. Adolescence is a difficult time; it's fraught with hormonal changes that cause mood swings and most youngsters emerge quite naturally from it.
Others however descend into depression and need help to get out. "Some research suggests depression is increasing in teenagers," Dr McGibbon says. "The life stressors of today are seen as greater, more challenging and more dangerous than those of previous generations. We could be seeing more cases of teen depression because we are becoming better at identifying it in young people." Clinical depression has clear markers that set it aside from normal teenage mood swings. These include loss of interest in friendships and usually enjoyable activities, a drop in academic performance, appetite disturbance and high levels of irritability. Parents are often relieved when depression is diagnosed in their teen because it WINTER 2010 87

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