Keeping Mental Disease at Bay Get Head Right No Matter Your Age; Today Is World Mental Health Day, a Day to Focus on Mental Health Education, Awareness and Advocacy

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With one in five South Africans living with some kind of mental illness, workplace mental health is a crucial factor to consider when building and maintaining a successful business, according to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag).

Employers cannot afford to overlook mental health issues and it is thus important to increase awareness and to decrease the stigma attached to diseases such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety and panic disorder, borderline personality disorder and schizophrenia, among others.

The good news is that all physical disorders of the brain are treatable with the right medication and social support.

This year's theme is "Depression in the Elderly". Low-grade depression (dysthymia) is one of the most common ailments on the planet and one of the least likely to be diagnosed. Clinical depression symptoms include debilitating insomnia, weight loss, anxiety or a dense mental fog. The pain is so awful that suicide can seem an acceptable solution.

Though the focus this year is on the elderly, depression is a physical disorder of the brain that affects over 20 million adults worldwide, besides affecting an estimated 6.5 million people over 65. Consider too that people are living longer and retiring later, remaining in the workplace well after turning 60.

Sadag will be hosting talks and workshops across the country at retirement villages and old age homes, equipping residents with valuable information on coping with depression. The majority of people are more likely to seek treatment for physical ailments than they are to seek treatment for depression.

Depression in elderly people often goes unrecognised and untreated.

With age comes major life changes, retirement, loss of health and mobility, the loss of social support, loneliness, isolation, the death of loved ones and financial burdens. Because of these factors, doctors and family may miss the signs of depression.

As a result, effective treatment is often delayed, forcing many elderly people into an unnecessarily long struggle with depression.

In rural areas, depression in the elderly can be a significant problem.

Do you want to check your mental health? If you think you may suffer from depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and panic and anxiety disorder, complete the self-rating questionnaire on Sadag's website. …