Depression

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Why can’t I shake this recurrent depression?

By the time patients come to me for the treatment of their depression, they have often been sick for some time. When we go into the history of the illness, it becomes clear that most have been depressed before.  If you have had two episodes, more than likely, you will have a third one. If you have had three episodes, there’s a 90 percent chance you will have a 4th. It seems that a single episode of depression is more the exception than the rule. The greatest predictor of a relapse of depression is stopping antidepressant treatment. More and more evidence…

Drained of all colour: What is depression?

Depression is a difficult concept to understand. We use the term loosely every day: “that movie was so depressing,” or, “I feel so depressed when I think of Cape Town’s water situation”. In this context depression is a normal, healthy part of the human experience. From an evolutionary perspective, depression could even be normal and necessary. Consider the baby bear who lost his mother. First, there is crying and wailing  (separation anxiety), in the hope of calling the mother to him. Then there is silent resignation and withdrawal (depression). The cub curls into a ball and barely moves, so as…

Suicide – the truth about Romeo and Juliet

Suicide Prevention Day was 10 September. Since then there have been an average of 23 reported suicides in South Africa per day. Tragically, teens are increasingly at risk, as Cape Town recently bore witness. I am happy to see that recent suicide media coverage is mostly compassionate and sensitive. The message behind Suicide Prevention Day was “a minute to save a life” – that you can save someone’s life by checking in on them. Unfortunately, suicide is also a magnet for sensationalism. Facebook and social media flare up when a suicide occurs within a community. Excessive coverage of celebrity suicides…

Happy Pills and other myths

Suffering from depression is hard. It’s possibly one of the toughest illnesses out there because it corrodes your very core, your self-esteem, your connection with others. Help is available. I tell my patients that together we will always win against depression, even if the path is rocky. I make use of many modalities to treat depression: therapy, diet, exercise, creative and spiritual outlets, and medication. Medication is a godsend in the management of depression. Yet it is the modality that carries with it the most resistance and false preconceptions. Some of the questions my patients most frequently ask are: Is it…

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