According to the World Health Organisation, one in three South Africans will suffer a mental health episode in their lives. Of these, 75% will go untreated. Photo: Thys Dullaart/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Cape Town - According to the World Health Organisation, one in three South Africans will suffer a mental health episode in their lives. Of these, 75% will go untreated.

It said depression, anxiety, mood disorders, post-traumatic stress, substance abuse and bipolar disorder were the most common mental health issues encountered.

According to the Mental Health Federation of SA, more than 17million people in South Africa are dealing with depression, substance abuse, anxiety, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia - illnesses that round out the top five mental health diagnoses.

Doctor Kobus Roux from the SA Society of Psychiatrists said global trends showed there had been a spike in the incidence of depression.

“The health systems are much more refined to pick up depression and more people are aware of it, but we aren’t sure whether the increase in the number is because people who have been depressed wouldn’t have received treatment in the past, and are now seeking treatment,” he said.

Abdurahman Kenny, central nervous system portfolio manager at Pharma Dynamics, said the growing incidence of depression and anxiety worldwide implied that there were other factors, too, that made modern-day society more vulnerable to mental illness.

He said trauma, bereavement and post-traumatic stress disorders were all well-known factors that increased one’s risk of depression, however there were some “surprising everyday” factors that affected our mental health that were often overlooked.

“Research shows being stuck in heavy traffic, spending too much time indoors, heavy social media use, lack of movement and even slouching could all be triggers that heighten our risks for mental illness,” he said.

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