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National News

Depression, anxiety disorders can impact your ability to work

JOHANNESBURG – Tuesday, 10 October 2017, marks World Mental Health Day and this year’s theme is Mental health in the workplace.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression and anxiety disorders are common mental disorders that have an impact on our ability to work, and to work productively. 

READ: The South African Depression and Anxiety Group needs help

Globally, more than 300 million people suffer from depression, the leading cause of disability. More than 260 million are living with anxiety disorders. Many of these people live with both.

Warning signs to watch for in yourself:

• Decreased or increased appetite
• Insomnia
• Lack of energy and motivation
• Loss of libido
• Avoiding social situations
• Not wanting to do things you previously enjoyed
• Amenorrhoea (skipped or ceased periods in women and young girls not on contraceptive medication)

In others:

• Changes in behaviour
• Helplessness and hopelessness
• Emotional withdrawal, such as not engaging with friends or going out
• Changes in eating patterns
• Changes in sleeping patterns
• A preoccupation with death or dying
• Moodiness, irritability, sadness or feeling blue

If you or a loved one is experiencing these symptoms, you need to see a doctor who can assess the situation, prescribe medication if necessary and put you in touch with a psychologist or psychiatrist. The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) is a great resource for guidance and support. Visit the website at

Lifestyle management tips to reduce the effects of mental health disorders:

1. Create structure
No matter how awful you feel, it’s important to keep to regular appointments, routines, engagements and sleep/wake times.
2. Limit stressors
Take time off work or restructure your work schedule into tasks that are more easily completed, require less concentration and can be accomplished in shorter periods of time.
3. Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness is a focus on living in the present. It is calmly accepting your feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations. Meditation can help you to be more mindful and when you are mindful, you’re taking responsibility for what you do, why you’re doing it and recognising that you have choices.
4. Exercise
This is as essential for mental health as it is for physical health. In general, the average person needs regular daily cardiovascular, weight-bearing exercise.
5. Eat right and avoid substance abuse
It’s important to eat a balanced diet and to avoid drinking alcohol or taking drugs. Often someone with mental health problems will try to self-medicate with alcohol, but this just makes depression and anxiety worse.



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