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To address the growing incidence of depression in South Africa, a nationwide depression support group was formed. A telephone counseling service and support line was made accessible to any person suffering from depression, panic disorder, social phobia, post traumatic stress disorder and generalised anxiety disorder.

The Depression and Anxiety Support Group was formed as a result of the single biggest initiatives within the pharmaceutical industry. Recognising the high incidence of depression (estimated at between 5 – 10% of the total population), but relatively poor awareness, a definite need existed for greater communication and support. The Depression Support Group has addressed this need and formed a well-trained and co-ordinated resource centre.

Telephone counseling to people with depression and their family and friends is their prime function. The group also aims to :-

· Co-ordinate the formation of regional support groups

· Send out information packs to members who join the group

· Destigmatise mental illness and heighten awareness and importance of depression

· Encourage early detection of depression

· Inform the public that depression is serious - but treatable

· Ultimately provide a “first step” for people in need!

And just who is in need? Depression does not discriminate or categorise. Factors that may confront any one of us, such as divorce, bereavement, illness and other stressors, often trigger depression. It is a biochemical disorder, and involves the body, mind, thoughts and feelings. Typically it affects the way you sleep, eat – the way you feel about things – the way you think about things.

Directly or indirectly, depression affects us all. Often manifesting itself in terms of low productivity and absenteeism. Yet treatment with medication and psychotherapy yields positive results, with success rates in 80% of cases.