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Mental Illness Isn't All in the Mind July is Mental Health Awareness Month. "It is okay to ask for help — particularly when it comes to treating anxiety disorders, depression and burnout", writes Penny Haw. Burnout, depression and anxiety disorders are different illnesses, but they share several important traits. They are all real and highly prevalent, and each carries the unfortunate, age-old stigma of mental illness. It's ridiculous, really. Fearing others will judge and treat us differently, many of us downplay, deny and even try to hide mental ailments. Burnout, depression and anxiety disorders are illnesses, they are not character flaws. And, unlike many character flaws, they respond to treatment and can be controlled. But help is required. "Ego", says Johannesburg psychiatrist and clinical psychologist Dr Frans Korb, "adds to the reluctance to seek treatment". People find it hard to admit they need help, particularly psychological help, because they imagine it's a sign of weakness. "Depression and anxiety disorders are biological illnesses. There are certain chemicals in the brain, including serotonin, noradrenalin and dopamine, which regulate mood and the way people feel. When the concentration of these chemicals becomes abnormal, people need medication to restore the balance. That is why the conditions need to be treated from a medical point of view," he says. "Unfortunately, stigma works against people coming forward for help. However, once patients accept their condition is medical, it reassures them and they are more inclined to seek professional help." Where to find help: Call the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) on 011 -234 4837 (8am - 8pm) or their 24-hour helpline: 0800 12 13 14. SMS SADAG to 31393 (they will call you back). Source: www.sadag.org.