Sufferers think they are having a heart attack.

This week, the South African Depression and Anxiety Support Group kicks off an 8 week campaign to inform people about Depression and Panic Disorder. Depression and Panic Disorder are often misunderstood illnesses that lead sufferers to believe that they are dying of a heart attack or going crazy.

The Group has developed printed material about the symptoms and treatment of the disorder which can affect up to one in every ten people.

Symptoms of panic disorder include :

The Chairman of the Group, Zane Wilson, said that the campaign which starts on the 1st of May 1998 is aimed at creating awareness and decreasing the stigma. The campain will include public talks around the country, starting off in Sandton, followed by Soweto, Stellenbosch, Bellville, Mitchells Plain, Sharpeville, Soshanguve, Mayfair, Pietersburg, Tzaneen, Umtata, Klabane, Harrismith, Qwa-Qwa, Mbatho, East London, St. Jeffreys Bay, Port Elizabeth, Pretoria, Kimberley, Westville, Durban, Pinetown, Welkom, Potchefstroom, Klerksdorp, Middelburg and Witbank.

“Ignorance about it is a formidable barrier to treatment,” said Prof. Berk of Wits University. “Panic Disorder can keep people paralysed with fear, making it impossible for them to hold jobs, maintain relationships, even to shop or take public transportation.” These days, treatment is effective and simple.