Caution on anxiety, depression in new year
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