Before David Anthony was diagnosed with mild anxiety and dysthymia, he lost interest in his business, the leisure activities he once enjoyed, and his church and community responsibilities. With treatment, David now leads an active professional and personal life again.
David Anthony remembers nights when his heart would pound hard enough to make his throat throb. He also recalls wishing he could turn his brain off. David thought he just needed relaxation, but even a vacation didn’t calm him. His wife Diane, pushed him to get help. A psychiatrist (a doctor who treats psychiatric disorders with medications), diagnosed David with dysthymia and mild anxiety. Dysthymia is a chronic depressed mood, less severe than “full-blown” depression.
David, 41, believes many men with depression suffer needlessly because society teaches them that getting help is a sign of weakness. “Men get this macho win, win, win stuff,” David said, recalling struggles he has triumphed over. “You have to be courageous to get help.”
When he was 17, David’s parents were murdered. He became the guardian of four siblings, then at 31, his son died shortly after birth. Later he and Diane faced her struggles with depression and bulimia, an eating disorder. Reading about depression helped him understand her feelings. His own depression surfaced in 1995. Various events in his life triggered the onset of his dysthymia.
Like many people with depressive disorders, he was indecisive and couldn’t sleep well. He began to recycle thoughts. David also lost interest in activities like his business – a construction company in Midrand, – and community volunteer work. And his heart beat too rapidly, an indication of anxiety.
David’s symptoms worsened gradually. His symptoms were not noticeable until they became chronic during Diane and David’s annual holiday. After they returned home, David saw a psychiatrist who prescribed an antidepressant. He said he felt relief almost immediately. It only took 3 – 4 weeks to take effect. Eventually, the sleepless nights and the recurring thoughts he had been experiencing disappeared. His heartbeat returned to normal. He regained his enthusiasm for work and opened a second construction company.
He has not received psychotherapy yet, although many people find a combination of talk therapy and medication the best solution. David advises consulting several doctors if necessary and encourages attending a local support group. “There’s no need to tolerate the pain – getting help is easy.”
It is to help both people with Depression and their family members with questions about Depression that the Depression and Anxiety Support Group has been formed. This is a free service, and they are open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday to Saturday, and have many resources such as brochures, books, videos, referral lists, support groups, etc. available. This initiative was made possible by a grant to the community by 19 of South Africa’s foremost Pharmaceutical companies.
To reach the Group, contact them on (011) 783-1474/6 or (011) 884-1797