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A local support group for people suffering from depression is concerned about an apparent shortage of mental health medication at clinics and state hospitals in Gauteng.

A local support group for people suffering from depression is concerned about an apparent shortage of mental health medication at clinics and state hospitals in Gauteng.

Group leader Lizl Joosten told Rekord this week she was among the affected.

“We have been struggling to get our bi-weekly supplies of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medicine since the beginning of August,” Joosten said.

“We are being turned away from various clinics and state hospitals including Pretoria West and Kalafong, where we were told there just weren’t any meds.

“When we visit the clinics and hospitals were are told there are no more meds available and different reasons are given – all of which are based on rumours.”

Joosten said some were “hysterical” at not being able to receive their medicines.

“Last Tuesday, the world celebrated suicide prevention day,” she said.

“And here we are, desperate to get our medicine and it is just not being supplied to us.”

DA Gauteng health spokesperson Jack Bloom told Rekord the crisis went beyond the province to the national level.

“There appears to be a shortage of medicine including Fluoxetine and Citalopram (both SSRIs),” Bloom said.

“It is very serious and can even be life-threatening.”

Bloom said the crisis, which was also brought to his attention by Joosten, had become a serious problem in the past few weeks.

Joosten said more needed to be done to raise the awareness of the plight of those suffering from depression.

“There is a lot of stigma around the disease and it is an epidemic,” she said.

She listed the following symptoms of depression:

– A prevailing feeling of sadness which lasts longer than six months
– Social withdrawal
– A loss of interest in everyday activities
– A loss of energy while experiencing fatigue

Joosten urged anyone with these symptoms to approach their general practitioner who will then refer them to the relevant mental health practitioner

“Alternatively, services like Lifeline and the SA depression and anxiety group can also provide support.”

The Gauteng department of health had yet to conclude its investigation into the matter by the time of going to press.


Name of the Publication: Centurion Rekord
Title of the article:Reported Scarcity of Depression drugs causes alarm
Topic: Depression
Date: 18 Sept 2019
Author: Bennit Bartl
Online link: https://rekordcenturion.co.za/179840/reported-scarcity-of-depression-drugs-causes-alarm/

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