Depression, If Untreated, Can Be Life-Threatening

It is a mental illness – and it is real.
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As South Africa mourns the death of Motsweding FM DJ Lara Kruger, who passed away on Wednesday morning, it has been revealed that she suffered from depression.

While the exact details of her death remain unknown, her manager, Boipelo Ditshego, revealed to Tshisa Live that Kruger was hospitalised twice in a space of one week in December owing to depression.

In a Facebook post, the DJ recently opened up about the mental health condition:

Idols SA judge and radio personality Somizi, in an Instagram post following the news of her passing, also attested to the seriousness of Kruger's depression.

As Somizi said, depression is real –– and if untreated, it can be life threatening.

According to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), depression comes in mild, moderate and severe forms. Although depression symptoms differ, the most common are:

  • mood changes –– someone may be persistently irritable, sad or anxious
  • feelings of hopelessness, guilt and helplessness.
  • loss of interest in hobbies and lower energy than normal
  • trouble sleeping
  • appetite changes
  • markedly diminished interest in sex
  • thoughts of suicide

If symptoms aren't treated or if depression is not managed, it can be life-threatening. That's because depression carries a high risk of suicide, and research notes that suicides stem mainly from mental health issues.

Life-threatening risky behaviour such as alcohol and substance abuse is another possible outcome of depression.

"In adolescents, untreated depression can manifest through substance abuse and self-medication. In young adults struggling with depression, it can manifest itself in alcohol abuse, which often masks a lot of depression. And you see the most violent suicides owing to depression in middle-aged to older men," clinical psychologist Zamo Mbele previously told HuffPost.

But depression can be treated, and there is help:

  • SADAG offers free and confidential counselling. Their toll free number is 0800 212 223.
  • You can also call the Suicide Crisis Line on 0800 567 567 or SMS 31393.

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