Why being South African could make you mentally ill

South Africa: high crime rates; 25% unemployment rate (2015); a high disparity between the rich and the poor. There’s no doubt that South Africans experience different types of trauma on a daily basis, and now we have a study as proof.

South Africa – the “Rainbow Nation” – whatever you call it, there really is no other country like it. The good, a rich history and diverse culture, and the bad, the frightening crime rate and extent of poverty. Our country is home to the extremely rich and exceptionally poor. Interestingly, each of these groups experience trauma in their own way.

This trauma, even unconsciously, puts us on edge and leaves us vulnerable to depression and anxiety; and how to we deal with this: for many, medication is the answer, which can be very expensive and causes many South Africans financial trauma, causing you to feel ill.

Why this happens

A link has been established between physical health and the experience of trauma, by a UCT doctoral student named, Lukoye Atwoli who says: “My research provides information on an important social issue, and for the first time demonstrates a link between trauma exposure and physical health in an African context.”

Atwoli used data that was collected by the South African Stress and Health Study (SASH) and through this, found that trauma can increase the risk of chronic physical conditions such as arthritis, chronic pain, and cardiovascular and respiratory disease. Trauma is also linked to mental disorders such as mood and anxiety disorder.

“According to the study, the most common events leading to trauma involved the unexpected death of a loved one and witnessing traumatic events that happened to someone else.”

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What do I do to prevent this?

  • Find ways to manage your stress levels: Every person is different and so it’s important to find a method that suits you. As the study used data collected by SASH, it’s essential that this is controlled.
  • Go and see your doctor: Whatever trauma you’ve experienced, it’s essential that you don’t keep it bottled up – this will only worsen potential mental and/or physical conditions.

It’s also vital to have information available to you, especially if you’re experiencing a mental disorders. Hello Doctor has compiled affordable, expert “bite-size” tips that will tell you everything you need to know. All you need to do is visit our health tips page and select the ANXIOUS module. If you require any further help, please don’t hesitate to text or speak to one of our doctors, via our app, which you can download here.

Even through all of this, South Africa is a country with a diverse culture and postcard-worthy beauty. If we embrace this and work together, effects of any trauma that is faced, will only make us stronger.

Remember, we all get knocked down, but it’s how you get back up that shows true character and every South African has this within them.

Sources: Trading Economics, SA Breaking News, Haeckhouse, Harvard