By Naadiya Adams
A pandemic-stricken year brought with it a range of mental instability, and depression among South Africans is seemingly on the rise according to recent studies.
Radio Islam spoke with health and wellness expert Vanessa Ascencao about the prevalence of depression among South Africans in recent years.
According to Ascencao, a recent study by WITS University has shown that in the past three years, between 2017 and 2020, South Africans showing depressive symptoms has doubled. The study aims to highlight the emotional effect the COVID19 pandemic has on individuals. As well as to urge policy makers to realise the side-effects of their decisions.
Lockdown regulations, the wearing of masks, use of sanitizers, being confined to your home, not seeing family or friends for this extended period has been very traumatic for so many people, including children.
Ascencao believes that many South Africans are currently experiencing PTSD in the form of anxiety and other mental health issues as a direct result of the pandemic.
The big question though, how does one know if you’re depressed or if someone you know might be suffering from depression?
The wellness expert says it becomes noticeable when a person goes through prolonged periods of feeling down, and the zest for life in that person is seemingly gone. Most notable though she says is that your sleeping patterns are disrupted – she also adds that while a person may be suffering from depression, there is a vast amount of help available.
According to Ascencao the stigma attached to mental health needs to be eroded as strength comes from vulnerability and asking for that help.
The use of medication for depression is not always necessary say Ascensao, there are many other ways to combat depression through mindfulness and meditation as well as meaningful connections with friends and family.
Ascencao has also urged people to research Saffron extract as a means for stress relief, as she firmly believes it does wonders.
“That have studied Saffron for a very long time and they’ve found that it helps with your mood, it helps with PMS, it helps with appetite regulation, its completely natural. And what I mean by it regulates your mood, is its not an addictive substance where you feel I need this for the rest of my life, it’s nothing like that. Its just something that helps you deal with stress and better-quality sleep.”
She re-iterates, “ there is a lot of strength in being vulnerable, I don’t want people to think they weak because they reaching out, true strength comes from being vulnerable.”