Durban — The Department of Health said it was important that people who suspect they have depression, schizophrenia or bipolar visit their nearest clinic to get help immediately.
A medical manager at Townhill Hospital, Dr Phumelele Luthuli, said schizophrenia was a serious mental condition involving a breakdown in the relation between thought, emotion and behaviour, leading to faulty perceptions, inappropriate actions and feelings, and withdrawal from reality and personal relationships into fantasy, delusion and a sense of mental fragmentation.
He said it could be a genetic disease but research has not shown which genes could be the cause of it. Luthuli said once all three mental disorders were in their advanced stage, they could disturb the brain.
“If you constantly feel sad it is important to go to your nearest clinic because you will get to the psychologists early. The therapy that you will receive from a psychologist can help you to not get worse or even be admitted to a hospital,” explained Luthuli.
He added that therapy could assist even when one was not at a stage whereby they needed to be taking pills. Furthermore, he said some people with bipolar could get overly excited over nothing and some often thought they had more powers than anyone else.
Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla recently raised concerns that only 30% of people who battle with mental health issues receive treatment. He said this should concern everyone, because it meant that we were living with family members, relatives and colleagues who remain undiagnosed and at risk, which could cause danger to others.
Phaahla said the government was now intensifying mental health awareness campaigns to empower citizens to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness, promote help-seeking behaviours and teach emotional well-being practices.
He said social stigma and discrimination served as a barrier to asking for help, making the recovery journey harder. He said women were more likely to develop depression and anxiety disorders, whereas men were at increased risk of developing substance abuse disorders.
Phaahla said suicide was another challenge, although it was not always a result of a mental illness.
“With studies having shown that other factors contribute to suicide; mental disorders are also one of the main risk factors for suicide,” he said. However, Phaahla said high levels of mental distress, poor coping skills and depressive disorders could drive people towards attempting suicide.
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