The silent killer

Get­ting to un­der­stand the types and causes of de­pres­sion

Move! - - CONTENTS - By Pheto Ra­makobya

THERE is no way de­pres­sion can be taken lightly af­ter Mahikeng-born rap­per, HHP, whose real name is Jab­u­lani ‘Jabba’ Tsambo, re­cently passed on af­ter a lengthy bat­tle with de­pres­sion. This shows how deadly de­pres­sion can be if it’s not dealt with in the right way.


In the past, many celebri­ties have opened up about their bat­tles with de­pres­sion. Even though it may seem that they’re liv­ing large, these celebri­ties have en­coun­tered their fair share of rough times.

The rap­per’s death comes as an ex­am­ple of how peo­ple are ig­no­rant when it comes to de­pres­sion and, ac­cord­ing to the South African De­pres­sion and Anx­i­ety Group (SADAG), they es­ti­mate that one in five peo­ple suf­fers from a men­tal ill­ness once in their lives and HHP’s story proves that no one is im­mune to de­pres­sion.

Tzi Sun, the au­thor of The Art of War, states in his book that to de­feat an en­emy one has to fully un­der­stand the en­emy. That is why clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist, Char­ity Mkone, who spe­cialises in men­tal ill­ness, helps us un­der­stand the silent killer called de­pres­sion much bet­ter.


Most peo­ple don’t even know what de­pres­sion is, even though they might be bat­tling with it on a daily ba­sis. The lack of knowl­edge when it comes to men­tal ill­ness is the rea­son a lot of cries from peo­ple bat­tling the ill­ness have fallen on deaf ears.

Char­ity says that there is a stigma when it comes to de­pres­sion be­cause most peo­ple fail to see it as an ill­ness and of­ten think that it is some­thing that most of the time af­fects one’s mood.

She also adds that de­pres­sion can af­fect any per­son, even chil­dren. She says this is be­cause


de­pres­sion is an in­ter­sec­tion be­tween bi­o­log­i­cal and emo­tional fac­tors.

SADAG says that a de­pres­sive dis­or­der is a ‘whole-body’ ill­ness, in­volv­ing your body, mood and thoughts. It af­fects the way you eat and sleep, the way you feel about your­self, and the way you think about things. A de­pres­sive dis­or­der is not the same as a tem­po­rary blue mood. It is not a sign of per­sonal weak­ness or a con­di­tion that can be willed or wished away. Peo­ple with a de­pres­sive ill­ness can­not merely “pull them­selves to­gether” and get bet­ter. With­out treat­ment, symp­toms can last for weeks, months or years. Ap­pro­pri­ate treat­ment can help most peo­ple who suf­fer from de­pres­sion.


De­pres­sive dis­or­ders come in dif­fer­ent forms, just as other ill­nesses, such as heart dis­ease. SADAG briefly de­scribes three of the most com­mon types of de­pres­sive dis­or­ders. How­ever, within these types there are vari­a­tions in the num­ber of symp­toms, their sever­ity and per­sis­tence.

Ma­jor de­pres­sion: This is man­i­fested through a com­bi­na­tion of symp­toms that in­ter­fere with the abil­ity to work, sleep, eat and en­joy once plea­sur­able ac­tiv­i­ties.

Dys­thymia: This is a less se­vere type of de­pres­sion. It in­volves long-term, chronic symp­toms last­ing years that do not dis­able, but keep you from func­tion­ing at your full po­ten­tial or from feel­ing good. Some­times peo­ple with dys­thymia also ex­pe­ri­ence ma­jor de­pres­sive episodes, also called dou­ble de­pres­sion.

Bipo­lar dis­or­der: Formerly called manic-de­pres­sive ill­ness. Not nearly as com­mon as other forms of de­pres­sive dis­or­ders, bipo­lar dis­or­der in­volves episodes of de­pres­sion and ela­tion or mania. Some­times the mood switches are dra­matic and rapid, but most of­ten they are grad­ual. Bipo­lar dis­or­der is of­ten a chronic re­cur­ring con­di­tion.


Early in the year, in an in­ter­view on Metro FM, HHP was speak­ing about his bat­tle with de­pres­sion where he opened up about some of the things in his life that might have led him into de­pres­sion. The rap­per stated that he had never worked a day in his life be­cause of his love for mu­sic.

“Mu­sic has al­ways been my life, mu­sic is my breath. They say if you re­ally do some­thing you love, you’ll eat at its al­tar so I have to eat from the mu­sic thing,” said the rap­per. “So at the time, its like dead­lines are in­volved, brand eq­uity is in­volved, this sound is what is play­ing on ra­dio so many things hap­pened that took me off track.”

The Bosso ke mang hit­maker also stated other things that trig­gered his de­pres­sion like the school fees for his son get­ting ex­pen­sive for him and all of those things hap­pen­ing in his life at that time led to him think­ing that the best so­lu­tion was to ‘check out’.

Char­ity clar­i­fies a few trig­gers of de­pres­sion. “A per­son deal­ing with the men­tal ill­ness will ex­pe­ri­ence a de­pressed mood dur­ing most of the day, es­pe­cially in the morn­ing and you also feel worth­less or guilty al­most ev­ery day,” she says. “You have al­most no in­ter­est or plea­sure in many ac­tiv­i­ties nearly ev­ery day. You think of­ten about death or sui­cide (not just a fear of death).”


SADAG: 011 234 483 For sui­ci­dal emer­gency: 0800 567 567

HHP passed on af­ter a long bat­tle with de­pres­sion

De­pres­sion can af­fect any­one, in­clud­ing chil­dren, and if not dealt with cor­rectly it can have dev­as­tat­ing ef­fects

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