25% of South Africans have mental problems

June 8th, 2008 - 12:16 pm ICT by ANI  

Johannesburg, June 8 (ANI): Nearly 25 pct of South Africans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD), says a leading psychiatrist.

Dr Eugene Allers, psychiatrist and former-president of the South African Society of Psychiatry (Sasop) revealed that up to six million South Africans suffer from PTSD and the country has become a “breeding ground” for psychiatric problems, reports News24.

Out of the 25 pct, nearly a third of these people are between the 30 and 40 years of age.

It was apparently said that up to 70 pct of people with psychiatric problems had major (serious) depressions.

Allers said that previous research had shown that up to half of people with major depression also had PTSD.

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to one or more terrifying events in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. It is a severe and ongoing emotional reaction to an extreme psychological trauma.

Experts believed that about a quarter to a third of people who were raped, for example, or who witnessed a traumatic incident developed PTSD. The rest process the experience.

Allers said abuse and neglect during a person’s childhood could make him more susceptible to developing psychiatric problems.

He said that if for, instance, the South African population was at 50 million people now, a quarter of them would have psychiatric problems, of which 70 pct would be major depression.

Of the people with depression 50pct would fulfil the criteria for PTSD.

He further said that local studies showed that in some communities 58pct to 94pct of children had witnessed incidents of violence. About one out of 5 of these children fulfilled the criteria for PTSD.

There were 350 psychiatrists in the country. Allers said 177 worked full-time, 56 part-time and the rest worked for the state.

The country only had about 2 000 psychotherapists in the private sector but needed many more to be able to help everyone. (ANI)

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