How depression and anxiety are linked to Robin Williams's death

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This file photo taken on November 15, 2005 shows US actor Robin Williams during a photocall of "The Big White" directed by Mark Mylod in Rome.

This file photo taken on November 15, 2005 shows US actor Robin Williams during a photocall of "The Big White" directed by Mark Mylod in Rome.

JOHANNESBURG - On Tuesday, the world woke to the shocking news that beloved comedy actor Robin Williams had died of an apparant suicide.

Cassy Chambers, Operations Director of the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) says depression and anxiety is the number one cause of suicides worldwide.

Pertaining to South Africa, Chambers said there are 23 suicides every day in the country.

"There are 230 attempted suicides every 24 hours and one in three South Africans will suffer from mental illness at some point in their lifetime," she said.

"75% of people who need treatment do not have access to treatment due to lack of resources in the country."

In the case of Robin Williams, he was known to have a history of substance abuse, suffered from bipolar disorder and battled with depression for many years.

"A lot of men use drugs and alcohol to self-medicate and cope with depression. The irony is that these substances are actually depressants, so the abuser will feel even worse after bingeing."

Depression and anxiety can stem from a combination of hereditary factors as well as being triggered by life-changing events.

"Things like unemployment, other illnesses, loss of a loved one and crippling stress can all cause depression or anxiety," Chambers said.

A lot of people don&39;t realise that they have the symptoms, they don&39;t know where to get help and are scared of the stigma attached to mental illness.

"They don&39;t want to be labelled as &39;crazy&39;, &39;weak&39; or &39;unstable&39;, so most people suffer in silence," Chambers continued.

Symptoms for depression

  • Change in sleeping or eating habits
  • Always tired, all you want to do is sleep
  • Alternatively, you have insomnia or feel hyperawake to the point of discomfort
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Isolating yourself from friends and family

Symptoms for anxiety

  • Very similar to those of depression
  • Feeling frightened or scared all the time
  • Heart racing or hot flushes
  • A sense of losing control
  • Panic attacks where you feel like you are going to die

One can have depression and anxiety at the same time.

Chambers&39;s advice to those who think they might be suffering from depression or anxiety is to "Get help, don&39;t think you are alone - speak to someone."

Contacting SADAG would be a good first step to getting help.

Chambers concluded, &39;We can help with dissecting your symptoms, counselling, sending you material on the subject and letting you know where you can get further assistance."