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Research on Depression in the Workplace.

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Mental Health Matters Journal for Psychiatrists & GP's

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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.

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IF YOU'RE STRUGGLING THROUGH YOUR DAYS AT WORK, IT COULD BE MORE THAN SIMPLY A LOW MOOD. HERE'S HOW TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE By Joonji Mdyogolo 1 careers n the space of a year, Otshepeng Sokhela, Znow 32, was pregnant and starting a new job. 'For me, it was a double whammy,' she says. Five months after giving birth, Otshepeng relocated to Cape Town and planned a wedding, which took place two months later. At the same time, she and her husband had decided to start a business together. Even though all the events sound idyllic, it was a lot of pressure and had a big impact on her job. She thought she was just tired. 'You simply don't function normally when you are depressed. Trying to focus to see something through takes much longer. Waking up and taking a shower can even be a mission. So you can only imagine how difficult it is to have to produce a meaningful report and analyse work.' CHALLENGES OF WORKING WOMEN Last year, the pharmaceutical company Pharma Dynamics released a study done on 2 800 working women in South Africa, which surprisingly revealed that they believed depression was one of the main barriers to achieving success at work, along with childcare or family responsibilities and bureaucratic company structures. The online survey reported that 'almost 65% of women said depression caused them to be quiet and reserved, and 41% said they were more prone to making job-related mistakes due to lack of sleep and concentration'. Depression was also cited as a cause for absenteeism, and Mariska van Aswegen, spokesperson for Pharma Dynamics, says one in 10 women reported having resigned from or lost a job mainly as a result of symptoms of depression. Otshepeng dealt with her depression by taking two years off work to focus on her family. She doesn't regret the decision, but concedes that it did hold her back career-wise. If you look at where I started in relation to my peers, they are getting the higher salaries and are in more senior positions.' Otshepeng's career is not where it should be, but she believes the break was crucial for her sanity, so she could give her kids quality care. DEPRESSION AND PERFECTION It's not that Otshepeng is a slacker; she is more likely a high-achiever. These days, she is a divorced mother to two kids and a risk manager in the asset management industry. Dr Lori Eddy, a counselling psychologist who used to work in corporate employee wellness programmes before opening her private practice in Sandton, says women are twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with depression, and adds that it's the high-powered and high-achieving women among us who are more prone to depression, usually because they try to do everything for everyone. They spread themselves too thin,' Dr Eddy says. Many women also have the extra role of taking care of the children, which Otshepeng admits is like having two full-time jobs. In the morning, Ideal with the kids, then I go to work and have to function at 100%.' Piled on to that is the pressure of wanting to be the best spouse and parent. You think this is what you are supposed to do, as that's the vision you have of what it means to be a mother and wife.' In addition, Otshepeng, like many other women, admits to being a people-pleaser, and often finds it difficult to say 'no' to extra responsibilities. After picking up her children from school, she'll usually go back to the office, which she acknowledges is overcompensating for feeling guilty that she can only get through the bare minimum. 'It's a vicious cycle.' HIGH-POWERED, HIGH-ACHIEVING WOVEN ARE voRE PRONE TO DEPRESSION Depression is a debilitating mental illness, says Dr Eddy, because it impedes all levels of function. 'Biologically, it means you lack energy, cognitively there's a loss of focus and problem-solving ability, and it affects interpersonal relationships too, as depressed people tend to withdraw.' THERAPY IN HONESTY It wasn't until baby number two was on the way and her marriage was unravelling that Otshepeng learnt what was wrong with her during a couples therapy session with her husband. She wasn't just exhausted; she was depressed. But, it's only now that she has made the choice to seek professional help for herself, a decision prompted by an incident at work in which she ended up in tears. 'I'm bubbly and always camouflage my feelings, so I think my bosses were quite taken aback,' she says. 'I thought right then and there that I needed to stop.' So she made the decision to be open with NOVEMBER 2014 51 careers her employers about her issue. 'I told my manager I was overwhelmed and needed to take some time off to figure things out.' However, Dr Eddy cautions sufferers to be careful about disclosing their condition to employers. While Otshepeng is one of the lucky few to have superiors who are willing to listen, most people are ignorant when it comes to mental health conditions. 'Manage how much you tell people. Let only those know who are obligated to keep your information a secret, like HR. Or even better, someone at an employee assistance programme, if your company has one.' ON THE UPSIDE Otshepeng says she didn't seek help when she was diagnosed in 2010, because she didn't want to be on medication, a common factor for those suffering with depression. It's important to know that it is an option not to take antidepressants, but you should also realise that drugs alone will not help without therapy. Many psychiatrists recommend a combination of therapy (cognitive behavioural therapy has been proven as an effective method with a low relapse rate) and medication for best results. Otshepeng says she'd advise women to build up a strong support system and communicate their needs. 'Honestly, I think I've put a lot on my plate. I have a great father for my kids, but no support for myself at home. Maybe at this point in my life, with kids under six and the job that I have, I really can't do it all. Maybe I just need to move back home [to Joburg] for support.' As Otshepeng demonstrates, honesty is a good start. But there are other things that can be done to get by every day, such as educating yourself about your condition, as well as increasing your activity levels. 'People who are depressed tend to stop the things they used to do,' says Dr Eddy, who believes it is important sufferers don't withdraw from society or stop engaging with other people. Instead, to help yourself get back on track, challenge your negative thinking, and rid yourself of spousal and parental guilt. You need to stop being so hard on yourself,' Dr Eddy reiterates. You could win one of two Moonlight Night Spa vouchers worth R1 500 each. SMS 'Blue' and your ID number to 43183. Details on page 72 lamf Ii FEEL \G DOW\ You can bounce back from a bad week at work, says counselling psychologist Dr Lori Eddy, but depression is different. It's about severity, duration and frequency. 'For depression, you have to show five out of nine symptoms in at least two weeks and your ability to function at work will be hampered. You will also be under significant distress.' Being in a depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day A loss of interest or pleasure in most activities Significant weight loss or gain Sleeping too much or not being able to sleep nearly every night Slowed thinking or movement that others have noticed Fatigue or low energy nearly every day Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt Loss of concentration or indecisiveness Recurring thoughts of death or suicide A stressful week could also be burnout, which is a feeling of utter exhaustion, but different from depression in that you feel fine on weekends. Prolonged burnout and stress, however, can lead to depression, so it is important to deal with it. You can do this by developing new coping skills, such as planning in advance, breaking tasks into manageable chunks and learning to delegate. Exercise and healthy food is really imiortant too, as these will help lift your mood. LO/GETTYIMAGES A helping hand Ca . . Triamics Police & Trauma uth African Depression and Anxiety Group toll-free on 0800 205 026. s a Sandton-based counselling psychologist who nitive behavioural therapy. Call her on 011 656 1058. Pharma Dynam Dr Lori Eddy PHOTOGRAPHY HSM 52 NOVEMBER 2014

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