Cau­tion on anx­i­ety, de­pres­sion in new year

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - KARISHMA DIPA

THE be­gin­ning of each year of­ten cat­a­pults us into a pe­riod of change when pupils start their school­ing ca­reer, stu­dents be­gin the next pe­riod of life at ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions, and oth­ers be­gin new jobs.

But health-care pro­fes­sion­als in­sist this new chap­ter could cause anx­i­ety which could es­ca­late to de­pres­sion if it is not dealt with ad­e­quately.

“Be­sides in­se­cu­rity and un­cer­tainty, ev­ery­thing else that comes with change may also throw us a curve ball which, men­tally speak­ing, may knock us down,” said Me­gan Hosk­ing, a psy­chi­atric in­take clin­i­cian at Akeso Psy­chi­atric Clinic Group.

She said if th­ese emo­tions were ig­nored, it could lead to un­healthy and even dan­ger­ous cop­ing meth­ods such as al­co­hol and drug use.

“Sui­cide is the sec­ond most com­mon cause of death amongst univer­sity stu­dents, so sadly, this is a pos­si­bil­ity, too, if the feel­ings are un­re­solved and over­whelm­ing.”

She said that those aged be­tween 19 and 24 were the most at-risk group for de­pres­sion and sui­cide.

“Twenty per­cent of univer­sity stu­dents have sui­ci­dal thoughts at some point dur­ing their univer­sity ca­reer, and with stu­dent sui­cides, 90 per­cent are found to have a psy­chi­atric di­ag­no­sis.

“This does in­di­cate that men­tal health is­sues are far more com­mon than we re­alise, and it’s im­por­tant to know that with in­ter­ven­tion and through seek­ing help for ap­pro­pri­ate treat­ment, there is al­ways hope for re­cov­ery and feel­ing bet­ter.”

Sithem­bile Mtolo is one of the peo­ple who found her­self deal­ing with anx­i­ety as she started a new job this year.

“Weeks be­fore I started my new job, I was so ner­vous and ex­cited at the same time.

“I was anx­ious about the new work en­vi­ron­ment and hav­ing to learn new things, and hav­ing to get a whole new wardrobe be­cause my jeans and sneak­ers couldn’t work in the cor­po­rate sec­tor,” she said.

As a re­sult of her pend­ing new ap­point­ment, Mtolo said she spent much of the De­cem­ber hol­i­days deal­ing with in­som­nia, body pains and a change in her eat­ing pat­terns.

In ad­di­tion, she also had to learn how to deal with cop­ing with her tod­dler son go­ing to crèche for the first time.

Hosk­ing sug­gested that for Mtolo and oth­ers start­ing a new phase in their lives, prepa­ra­tion is key.

“To avoid feel­ings of fail­ure or de­pres­sion, proper plan­ning, prepa­ra­tion and prioritising can be very help­ful to as­sist us to suc­cess­fully man­age th­ese tran­si­tions.”

She said that chil­dren and adults should com­mu­ni­cate with oth­ers at their new schools and work­places about their anx­i­ety.

Hosk­ing added that peo­ple should also al­low them­selves time to tran­si­tion.

“While re­al­is­tic goals are im­por­tant, find­ing your way in a new sys­tem, un­der­stand­ing it and your ex­pec­ta­tions is also im­por­tant.”

She also sug­gested that liv­ing a healthy life­style could com­bat stress and anx­i­ety.

“That means healthy food, ex­er­cise and enough sleep.”

There is hope for re­cov­ery and feel­ing bet­ter

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