THE SOUTH AFRICAN
DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY
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IN THE WORKPLACE

New Research on Depression in the Workplace.

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JOURNAL

Mental Health Matters Journal for Psychiatrists & GP's

MHM September 207x300

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SPEAKING BOOKS

suicide 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.

depression book

To view the larger PDF version - click here

your work making you depressed1

your work making you depressed2

IS YOUR WORK MAKING YOU DEPRESSED? Does your lob leave you feeling blue? Here's how to handle depression at the office EING sad, losing the ability to enjoy everyday activities, feeling socially isolated and worthless: these are states of mind usually associated with depression. But sometimes, you can be so focused on climbing the career ladder that you neglect to take care of yourself. Then the wheels of your life can come off unexpectedly. This is what happened to Richard Hawkey [43), a former senior portfolio manager at a major banking group, while on a family holiday. "People think depression is when you cry and withdraw, but sometimes you become ill- tempered and cynical," he recalls. "You carry on because that's what you're used to doin and what you see others doing, so you thing it's normal. You have exaggerated outbursts of anger and you become a control freak. "And then one morning, you find you can't get out of bed." Richard stayed in bed for IO days. When he arrived home in Joburg, he went to see his doctor, who diagnosed depression and referred him to a psychiatrist. "I left work on a Friday and never went back," Richard says. He'd shown stress and burnout symptoms for IO years and was finally forced to get off the hamster wheel. "I'm now more productive and work fewer hours, because I'm also taking care of other aspects of my life," he says. "Companies need your ability for passionate, creative cooperation - that's the human element. The rest can be done by computers." Depressed employees, as Richard once was, struggle to perform their duties. That's why it's important that employers make it easy for them to get on top their condition as soon as 1 WHAT YOU MIGHT EXPERIENCE nol,, ll INI7 amt: Igi-'24 onnnnrr4rssrvn M 72 South Africans who've suffered from depression take longer to complete simple tasks and make more mistakes than usual DID YOU KNOW? More than 54 % of at work. possible, says Cassey Chambers, operations director of the South African Depression & Anxiety Group (Sadag). A study found that a third of people diagnosed with depression prefer not to tell people about it. As there's still a stigma attached to depression, they fear that if their employers and colleagues know about their condition they might be at a disadvantage. Someone who's depressed struggles to make decisions, concentrate, remember things and solve problems, says Dr Frans Korb, a psychiatrist and clinical psychologist from Joburg. "If an employee is depressed at work, they're five times less productive than an employee who's at home recovering from depression," he explains. "You feel trapped, and caged in," says Khensani HIongwane* (45) of Tzaneen, Limpopo, describing how she felt dealing with her depression while at work. She took part in the Sadag study. "By the end of the day, very little work had been done. Your thinking makes it very difficult to perform any normal everyday task, not iust office duties." "I feel totally exhausted. I get sick all the time, and I have to take time off work," says Jacobo Khumalo* (38) from Pretoria, another Earticipant. "My boss asks me what's wron , ut I can't talk to him about how overwhelms I feel and how I struggle to keep my head above .l k water at the office. It's like admitting that I can't keep up with the pace at work. "It's frustrating to feel everyone around me can keep up and is happy all the time. It makes me angry and sometimes I feel I want to explode. It seems to me the only thing that helps is to have a few drinks at night." IMPACT ON PRODUCTIVITY Depression is the world's third most common "burden of disease", taking into account the costs of things such as loss of productivity, illness and suicide. Adding to their burdern, employees are scared to tell their employers about being diagnosed with depression, Sadag founder Zane Wilson says. "People are worried their boss will think the 're not working hard enough or they're using depression as an excuse." WHAT TO DO AFTER DIAGNOSIS * First, discuss the issue with your human resources manager lHRM), advises Dr Hannes Swart, an industrial psychologist from Cape Town. The two of you can then talk to your line manager, who'll want to know how your condition will affect your department. The HRM is also the ideal person to monitor the situation. *There's no legal obligation to reveal your diagnosis to your employer, Richard says. "But if you explain your situation to emotionally mature and empathic leaders, it puts them in the best NDOISHHIIDHS position to make allowances for you - which employers are legally bound to do." * Be aware that depression is a treatable condition and not a life sentence, says Richard. lf you get the right treatment soon enough - whether it's medication and/or cognitive behavioural therapy - you can be as productive as any other employee. * lt could take up to ei ht weeks for medication to have any effect, Richard says. Medication for psychiatric conditions is highly sophisticated these days, and the side effects can often be avoided by discussing it with the doctor prescribing the medicine - the dosage can be changed or you can try alternative medication, says Dr Swart. "But one of the biggest mistakes is to just take medication and not also go for therapy," Dr Swart cautions. *Take a good look at all aspects of your life and pursue a more balanced lifestyle. Try to eat as healthily as possible, drink lots of water, and do moderate exercise such as going for a walk every day, Richard advises. * Join a support group. Don't isolate yourself. * Most importantly, believe that things will get better, Richard says. "But you must find the energy and courage to do this." I *Names changed EXTRA SOURCES SADAG ORG, HEALTH CVS COM, TIME COM Depression is a personal issue, Dr Swart believes. "l don't see the point in telling everyone a person is depressed. Only affected staff members need to know about it, and how to handle it." * Inform employees about depression, and especially how it can affect work performance. * Promote a culture where depression and other ps chiatric conditions are accepted - they're no digerent from diabetes or asthma. * lf an employee o ens up about their stru le with depression, re er them to a mental hegffi specialist and assure them that their condition is treatable. * Explore creative ways to hel an employee with their recovery. For examploe, adopting flexible working hours or letting the person work from home for a while. * Besides this, the person should also take time off work for psychiatric or psychological treatment. Sometimes depression can be so severe the person has to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital for a few days. Once the person is back at the office, they might feel overwhelmed by the work that's piled up - it might seem like an impossible task to catch up and get everything up to date. "If the employer doesn't show oodwill towards the depression sufferer, t ere's a risk of conflict at work - which will have a further impact on the person's mood because they'd feel even more worthless and guilty," Cape Town psychologist Dr Rosa Bredenkamp warns. * Colleagues can educate themselves about depression at sadag.org. "Common decenc and respect go a long way," Richarcf'says. *They should support the employee and understand which actions, work methods or behaviour can make the depression worse and try to avoid them, Dr Swart advises. * Offer to help your colleague with their duties while they're being treated for depression, suggests Dr Bredenkamp. * Be careful not to coddle the depression sufferer because that could make their behaviour worse, Dr Bredenkamp warns. It's therefore important to maintain a ood balance. "Because the depression su erer usually withdraws from people it would be good to involve the person in enjoyable activities and not exclude them." MORE INFO * ln Richard Hawkey's book, Life Less Lived: A Passage Through Burn Out ' , and Depression ln the Suburbs (Xlibris, R344 from tpkealot.com), he tells of his struggle to overcome depression. *To find a support group in your area, visit sadag.org for options. m Lifestyle I Li fe BY PiETER VAN zvt IS YOUR WORK MAKING YOU DEPRESSED? Does your lob leave you feeling blue? Here's how to handle depression at the office EING sad, losing the ability to enjoy everyday activities, feeling socially isolated and worthless: these are states of mind usually associated with depression. But sometimes, you can be so focused on climbing the career ladder that you neglect to take care of yourself. Then the wheels of your life can come off unexpectedly. This is what happened to Richard Hawkey [43), a former senior portfolio manager at a major banking group, while on a family holiday. "People think depression is when you cry and withdraw, but sometimes you become ill- tempered and cynical," he recalls. "You carry on because that's what you're used to doin and what you see others doing, so you thing it's normal. You have exaggerated outbursts of anger and you become a control freak. "And then one morning, you find you can't get out of bed." Richard stayed in bed for IO days. When he arrived home in Joburg, he went to see his doctor, who diagnosed depression and referred him to a psychiatrist. "I left work on a Friday and never went back," Richard says. He'd shown stress and burnout symptoms for IO years and was finally forced to get off the hamster wheel. "I'm now more productive and work fewer hours, because I'm also taking care of other aspects of my life," he says. "Companies need your ability for passionate, creative cooperation - that's the human element. The rest can be done by computers." Depressed employees, as Richard once was, struggle to perform their duties. That's why it's important that employers make it easy for them to get on top their condition as soon as 1 WHAT YOU MIGHT EXPERIENCE nol,, ll INI7 amt: Igi-'24 onnnnrr4rssrvn M 72 South Africans who've suffered from depression take longer to complete simple tasks and make more mistakes than usual DID YOU KNOW? More than 54 % of at work. possible, says Cassey Chambers, operations director of the South African Depression & Anxiety Group (Sadag). A study found that a third of people diagnosed with depression prefer not to tell people about it. As there's still a stigma attached to depression, they fear that if their employers and colleagues know about their condition they might be at a disadvantage. Someone who's depressed struggles to make decisions, concentrate, remember things and solve problems, says Dr Frans Korb, a psychiatrist and clinical psychologist from Joburg. "If an employee is depressed at work, they're five times less productive than an employee who's at home recovering from depression," he explains. "You feel trapped, and caged in," says Khensani HIongwane* (45) of Tzaneen, Limpopo, describing how she felt dealing with her depression while at work. She took part in the Sadag study. "By the end of the day, very little work had been done. Your thinking makes it very difficult to perform any normal everyday task, not iust office duties." "I feel totally exhausted. I get sick all the time, and I have to take time off work," says Jacobo Khumalo* (38) from Pretoria, another Earticipant. "My boss asks me what's wron , ut I can't talk to him about how overwhelms I feel and how I struggle to keep my head above .l k water at the office. It's like admitting that I can't keep up with the pace at work. "It's frustrating to feel everyone around me can keep up and is happy all the time. It makes me angry and sometimes I feel I want to explode. It seems to me the only thing that helps is to have a few drinks at night." IMPACT ON PRODUCTIVITY Depression is the world's third most common "burden of disease", taking into account the costs of things such as loss of productivity, illness and suicide. Adding to their burdern, employees are scared to tell their employers about being diagnosed with depression, Sadag founder Zane Wilson says. "People are worried their boss will think the 're not working hard enough or they're using depression as an excuse." WHAT TO DO AFTER DIAGNOSIS * First, discuss the issue with your human resources manager lHRM), advises Dr Hannes Swart, an industrial psychologist from Cape Town. The two of you can then talk to your line manager, who'll want to know how your condition will affect your department. The HRM is also the ideal person to monitor the situation. *There's no legal obligation to reveal your diagnosis to your employer, Richard says. "But if you explain your situation to emotionally mature and empathic leaders, it puts them in the best NDOISHHIIDHS position to make allowances for you - which employers are legally bound to do." * Be aware that depression is a treatable condition and not a life sentence, says Richard. lf you get the right treatment soon enough - whether it's medication and/or cognitive behavioural therapy - you can be as productive as any other employee. * lt could take up to ei ht weeks for medication to have any effect, Richard says. Medication for psychiatric conditions is highly sophisticated these days, and the side effects can often be avoided by discussing it with the doctor prescribing the medicine - the dosage can be changed or you can try alternative medication, says Dr Swart. "But one of the biggest mistakes is to just take medication and not also go for therapy," Dr Swart cautions. *Take a good look at all aspects of your life and pursue a more balanced lifestyle. Try to eat as healthily as possible, drink lots of water, and do moderate exercise such as going for a walk every day, Richard advises. * Join a support group. Don't isolate yourself. * Most importantly, believe that things will get better, Richard says. "But you must find the energy and courage to do this." I *Names changed EXTRA SOURCES SADAG ORG, HEALTH CVS COM, TIME COM Depression is a personal issue, Dr Swart believes. "l don't see the point in telling everyone a person is depressed. Only affected staff members need to know about it, and how to handle it." * Inform employees about depression, and especially how it can affect work performance. * Promote a culture where depression and other ps chiatric conditions are accepted - they're no digerent from diabetes or asthma. * lf an employee o ens up about their stru le with depression, re er them to a mental hegffi specialist and assure them that their condition is treatable. * Explore creative ways to hel an employee with their recovery. For examploe, adopting flexible working hours or letting the person work from home for a while. * Besides this, the person should also take time off work for psychiatric or psychological treatment. Sometimes depression can be so severe the person has to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital for a few days. Once the person is back at the office, they might feel overwhelmed by the work that's piled up - it might seem like an impossible task to catch up and get everything up to date. "If the employer doesn't show oodwill towards the depression sufferer, t ere's a risk of conflict at work - which will have a further impact on the person's mood because they'd feel even more worthless and guilty," Cape Town psychologist Dr Rosa Bredenkamp warns. * Colleagues can educate themselves about depression at sadag.org. "Common decenc and respect go a long way," Richarcf'says. *They should support the employee and understand which actions, work methods or behaviour can make the depression worse and try to avoid them, Dr Swart advises. * Offer to help your colleague with their duties while they're being treated for depression, suggests Dr Bredenkamp. * Be careful not to coddle the depression sufferer because that could make their behaviour worse, Dr Bredenkamp warns. It's therefore important to maintain a ood balance. "Because the depression su erer usually withdraws from people it would be good to involve the person in enjoyable activities and not exclude them." MORE INFO * ln Richard Hawkey's book, Life Less Lived: A Passage Through Burn Out ' , and Depression ln the Suburbs (Xlibris, R344 from tpkealot.com), he tells of his struggle to overcome depression. *To find a support group in your area, visit sadag.org for options.

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