2020, a year that will never be forgotten due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, has been a challenging year for everyone. It was certainly not the year that any of us expected and it is for this very reason – that it was so unexpected - that many of us have struggled.
When there are discrepancies between our expectations and reality, all sorts of distress signals go off in our brains. It doesn’t matter if it’s an annual holiday ritual or a more mundane daily habit like how you clean your teeth; if you can’t do it the way you normally do it, you’re biologically engineered to get upset. We really are creatures of habit.
"Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens.
Some things are up to us and some things are not up to us.
Our opinions are up to us, and our impulses, desires, aversions—in short, whatever is our own doing. Our bodies are not up to us, nor are our possessions, our reputations, or our public offices, or, that is, whatever is not our own doing.”
~ Epictetus ~
(Greek Stoic philosopher - 55 – 135 AD)
Studies show that between 10% and 40% of women will be afflicted by postpartum depression. If one takes the lowest figure of 10%, there are at least 50 000 new cases of postpartum depression per year in South Africa alone. The real tragedy is that for many of these women, it is never even picked up, because despite the considerable number of cases, the condition generally remains undiagnosed and untreated.
Postpartum depression does not only affect the mother – it can affect the entire family – so it is time we all understood more about the illness to play our part in recognising and defeating this highly treatable and avoidable condition.
We live in a world of uncertainty. We are constantly trying to overcome this by making sense of things. The problem is that however good our sense-making is, it can never match the complexity of the world. As a result, the meaning that we create is always tinged with doubt. Some uncertainty always remains. Said another way, the assumptions we make and the things we do in the world all attract an element of risk.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that each year approximately one million people die from suicide. This is a global mortality rate of 16 people per 100 000, or one death every 40 seconds. It is predicted that by 2020 the rate will increase to one death every 20 seconds.
In the last 45 years suicide rates have increased by 60% worldwide. Suicide is now among the three leading causes of death among men and women aged 15-44.
It is time we took this issue seriously and learnt more about the causes, the signs and signals to look out for and what can be done to prevent such tragedies.
Depression is the most common complaint of individuals seeking mental health care. By 2020 depression will be the 2nd most disabling health condition in the world (Lopez et al., 2006).
Alarming statistics perhaps and yet what is more alarming is that many people are not even aware that they are suffering from depression. They are not able to recognise the signs and symptoms of depression in themselves or others. This lack of knowledge is causing unnecessary suffering and it’s important that we change this state of ignorance and educate ourselves so that we can:
It seems that there really is more than a little truth in the old adage 'laughter is the best medicine'. Scientific studies around the world are continuing to prove that, apart from making us feel good, laughing actually does us good as well – and can actually significantly increase our life span. Pre-school children laugh or smile between 300 and 400 times a day. By the age of 35, this drops to about 18 times. Why have we lost our sense of humour, and what can we do to put more laughter into our lives?
“Spare the rod, spoil the child” and “No hiding equals no discipline” are familiar adages that offer advice with biblical roots - but are no longer treated as gospel. Indeed, there is no hiding from the fact that research proves corporal punishment is not the most effective method of instilling discipline in children. There are two highly effective alternatives to punishment – positive and negative reinforcement.
There are probably as many misconceptions, myths and stereotypes about mental disorders as there are mental disorders. Popular fiction and film often perpetuate these misconceptions, reinforcing the belief that those suffering from a mental disorder are 'crazy' and should be institutionalised. Gaining a deeper understanding of mental disorders and their causes can help us deal more effectively with affected loved ones or colleagues.
Grief and bereavement are possibly two of the most difficult and challenging certainties we will ever have to face. Unfortunately, they are also possibly the ones we know the least about. In our western culture, we often feel awkward around death and dying and just don't know what to do, or to say to a person who is bereaved and grieving.