Mental Health Matters is published five times a year with the objective of bringing information and support to South Africa’s GP’s in their role as first line care givers and identifiers of mental health issues.


This was the question Dr X posed when he consulted me recently: “We diagnose and treat patients with Depression on a regular basis. But what do we do when we suffer from Depression? We can’t believe this is happening to us. We think we’re beyond emotional issues. We counsel patients on a daily basis. How do we now sit in the patient’s seat and receive counselling. Why does our intellect not prevail to deal with the issues confronting us! Our role in society is to be the ‘go to’ people – whether it’s in the community or in our families.” This colleague was in shock about having Depression over and above being severely depressed.

R Naidoo

Schizophrenia is a Psychotic Disorder, in fact the commonest of all the Psychotic Disorders, affecting about 1% of the general population.1 The causes are numerous and often difficult to determine in individual patients, but includes genetic factors such as heritability (as in the case of Mr X) and nonfamilial genetic abnormalities, or environmental causes such as adverse events during pregnancy, birth or early childhood, certain infections or certain substances use. According to Dr Stephen M Stahl1 the symptoms of Schizophrenia can be divided into five clusters. The first is ‘positive symptoms’ and these include hallucinations and delusions. The second is ‘negative symptoms’ including:

I Smit

Anxiety is part of the normal mechanism that drives our survival. It can be conceptualised as the brain’s alarm system that fires in response to danger. Increased arousal, avoidance and vigilance are responses that are critical in helping us avoid harm and ultimately keep us safe. However, in some individuals these responses seem to be overactive. Current neuroscience claims that the brain pathways involved in reactions to perceived threats share similar pathways to Anxiety disorders.

N Pillay

Bipolar disorder and ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, are two conditions that are being diagnosed more and more in American children and teens, often together. Medical science is learning more about Bipolar Disorder in children and teens but the condition is still difficult to diagnose. That’s especially true for teenagers in whom irritability and moodiness commonly co-exist as part of a normal adolescence. A preteen or teenager with mood swings may be going through a difficult but normal developmental stage. Or they may have Bipolar Disorder with periodic mood changes that shift from Depression to Mania.

Review by S Bhandari

Both doctors and patients realise sleep is important. Patients know how groggy,
irritable and unproductive they are after a night of too little sleep. Sleep controls almost everything in the body: including memory, mood, temperature, hormonal control, bone growth, immunity, tissue repair, pain control, and so on. A chronic lack of sleep is bad for our health and makes us vulnerable to illnesses and conditions from weight gain to bad skin to diabetes. None of this helps patients who struggle with a Sleep Disorder.

KD Rosman

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a multifaceted diagnosis given to people who fall on the severe end of a continuum in terms of specific personality traits. This diagnosis is frequently misunderstood and confused with Bipolar Mood Disorder. BPD patients are notoriously known for being ‘difficult’ patients, but with empathy and boundary setting you can create rich therapeutic work and constructively help a BPD patient to function more effectively.

AH Robertson

The South African Constitutions Bill of Rights, the Employment Equity Act, as well as the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act are just some of the pieces of legislation that protect the right of persons with Mental Disabilities to access employment opportunities without discrimination or exclusion due to their disabilities or exclusion within the open Labour Market.

M Viljoen

Escaping an Addiction is a wonderful achievement, but it doesn’t mean everything’s going to be perfect right away. It can take a long time to put
right the destruction created over years of Substance Abuse. The hardest
challenge can be rebuilding relationships because generally it can take some
time to regain trust and the respect of people who have been hurt. There may
even be relationships that won’t even be repaired because not everyone will
be ready to forgive and forget. Just giving up alcohol or drugs alone may not
be enough to repair the damage.

NC Tibane

Seeking treatment for Mental Health
There are many options available for people looking to improve their mental health and wellbeing, or to address a psychiatric or psychological crisis they’re experiencing. This can be done through appointments with doctors and psychologists, attending support groups, or other activities but sometimes an inpatient treatment programme – hospitalisation – is the best option for safety and also for a more intensive therapeutic intervention.

M Hosking

Physiotherapists have an important role in improving a patient’s Mental Health as an integral part of the multi-disciplinary team. There are a number of problems Physiotherapists can help with:

Sedentary life style: A lack of exercise can cause further depression and anxiety. Physiotherapists are experts in prescribing a specific exercise programme to the patient’s needs, monitoring exercises with the patient.

C du Plessis

When I had my first Panic Attack at the age of 21, I was mortified. When the doctor told me, I didn’t believe him. There was me, an up and coming media sales rep, the life and soul of the party who, in his own mind, feared nothing, was confident and was going places. And here sat in front of me, was a so-called expert who was telling me, ME, I was suffering from a Mental Illness.

A Sullivan

Zane Wilson Founder SADAG

  • Neil Amoore,
  • Psychologist, Johannesburg
  • Kevin Bolon,
  • Psychologist, Johannesburg
  • Dr Jan Chabalala,
  • Psychiatrist, Johannesburg
  • Dr Lori Eddy,
  • Psychologist, Johannesburg
  • Lee-Ann Hartman,
  • Psychologist, Johannesburg
  • Dr Frans Korb,
  • Psychiatrist/Psychologist, Johannesburg
  • Professor Crick Lund,
  • Psychiatrist, Cape Town
  • Dr Rykie Liebenberg,
  • Psychiatrist, Johannesburg
  • Dr Colinda Linde,
  • Psychologist, Johannesburg
  • Zamo Mbele,
  • Psychologist, Johannesburg
  • Nkini Phasha,
  • SADAG Director, Johannesburg
  • David Rosenstein,
  • Psychologist, Cape Town
  • Professor Dan Stein,
  • Psychiatrist, Cape Town
  • Professor Bernard van Rensburg,
  • Johannesburg
  • Dr Sheldon Zilesnick,
  • Psychiatrist, Johannesburg