Depression, anxiety on the rise among young people

Several experts agree there’s been an increase in the prevalence of depression & anxiety disorders.

FILE: Mental health experts agree the number of cases increase over the festive season. Picture:

CAPE TOWN - Several mental health experts agree there has been an increase in the prevalence of depression and anxiety disorders among young people in recent years.

The 2010 Global Burden of Disease Study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation states depressive disorders reaches its peak in people who are in their twenties to early thirties.

Crick Lund, Director of the Cape Town-based Alan J Flisher Centre for Public Mental Health, says it was proven that young people are more susceptible to suffering from some disorders.

"What we do know is that the burden of mental disorders like depression, psychosis and substance use disorders are felt most acutely in the adult early years."

Psychologist Zamo Mbele says he's been dealing with more cases of twenty-somethings and teens suffering from depression and anxiety.

"We see more young people seeking help for depression and anxiety."

Mental health experts agree the number of cases increase over the festive season.


Some psychologists say young people have become more susceptible to depression and anxiety due to added pressure from society and social media.

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group says adolescents between the ages of 13 and 17 years are most at risk of committing suicide.

Mental health experts say now that its holiday season, young people are bombarded with social pressures which they often cannot live up to, which can lead to severe anxiety disorders.

Gauteng psychologist Tamara Zanella says social media has made the pressures of growing up worse than ever before.

"It's sort of a filtered example of what people's lives are. We're all trying to emulate everybody else's life, and we don't feel like we're quite getting there."

Amy Johnson is a journalist in her twenties. She had a nervous breakdown earlier this year and has since been diagnosed with depression.

Johnson, who admits she's a workaholic, said she placed too much pressure on herself.

"I've got so much going for me and I was in such disbelief when the doctor told me that I am suffering from depression and anxiety."

Zanella adds different triggers can cause depression and anxiety disorders especially during the holidays.


At the same time, several depression sufferers in their twenties say one of their biggest challenges is having to deal with society's misconceptions about the disorder.

Social media analyst Terzel Rasmus who was diagnosed with depression in 2013 says initially she didn't want to tell family members about her condition for fear of criticism.

"I didn't actually tell my aunts and uncles because I wasn't sure about their response, but by 2013, I was alienating a lot of people."

Lawyer Jackie Davidoff says she has been dealing with severe anxiety since she was in high school and still finds that those closest to her don't understand it.

"My partner doesn't understand it, he still doesn't understand it. So I'm not getting much support there."

Other depression and anxiety sufferers agree society needs to be more educated on mental disorders.

One depression sufferer, who wishes to remain anonymous says communities' mind shifts need to change.

"We definitely need to talk more about it, especially in more traditional communities like black and coloured communities where mental illnesses are not necessarily seen as real illnesses. If we don't talk about it a lot of young people are going to continue suffering in silence."