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Linking education to treatment during Mental Health Awareness Month

2018/07/26 12:25:03

Mental Health Awareness Month – July 2018

Linking education to treatment during Mental Health Awareness Month
Mental Health Awareness Month is a time to reflect on stigma and discrimination, which can only be stopped by education. 1 Education relating to treatment support, may also be helpful in mapping the way forward for those affected by mental illness.

Mental Health Awareness Month, which takes place every July in South Africa, elevates awareness of the stigma faced by those living with mental illness. Activities during the month usually include a focus on education to increase understanding and to advocate for change, to show that mental illness is not something to be ashamed about and that getting help is possible. The fear of stigma silences many, who avoid seeking help in the fear that others will think that they are crazy. 1

Depression is common and has a significant impact on the lives of the affected individuals and those around them. 2 There is a need to address unmet treatment needs, as less than 40% of people treated with Selective Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), the most commonly used antidepressant monotherapy, achieve full remission. Although the strategy of adding a second antidepressant may enhance efficacy, it comes with the risk of reduced tolerability.3

Folate is a natural form of vitamin B9 that is found in food, especially leafy vegetables. 4 Folate may be a useful addition to antidepressant treatment. Patients with depression often have a folate deficiency, which correlates with the severity of depression, while low folate levels are associated with poor response to antidepressants. 5 Of interest are the findings of a recent study which showed that vitamin D plus fluoxetine, a SSRI, showed better results than fluoxetine alone in controlling depressive symptoms.6 A further study concluded that vitamin B supplementation, given with antidepressants, significantly improved depressive symptoms in the group studied. 7

Encouraged by such evidence, the OTC division of Adcock Ingram has launched a supplement especially formulated to assist in the maintenance of the essential nutrients that may be depleted as a result of depression or the treatment thereof. SSRI-GAP contains folic acid, a synthetic compound similar to folate, vitamin D and vitamin B12.4,8 Although these nutrients may also be obtained from various food sources, SSRI-GAP offers a convenient fixed combination of the three. SSRI-GAP is formulated to offer a convenient once daily dosage.

Further information on the GAP range is available at:
SSRI-GAP: Each capsule contains Vitamin B12 0, 1 mg; Vitamin D3 800 IU; Folic acid 0,4 mg.
For full prescribing information refer to the package insert.
Adcock Ingram Limited. Reg. No. 1949/034385/06. Private Bag X69, Bryanston, 2021, South Africa.
Tel. +27 11 635 0000    201806251086071
1.  South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG): July is Mental Health Awareness Month, [cited 2018 June 23]. Available from:
2.  Stander MP, Bergh M, Miller-Janson HE, et al. Depression in the South African workplace. S Afr J Psychiat 2016;22(1):a814. http:// dx.doi org/10.4102/sajpsychiatry.v22i1.814.
3.  Morris DW, Trivedi MH, Rush AJ. Folate and unipolar depression. J Alt Comp Med 2008;14(3):277-28
4.  Healthline Newsletter. [cited 2018 June 23] Available from:
5.  Coppen A1, Bailey J. Enhancement of the antidepressant action of fluoxetine by folic acid: a randomised, placebo controlled trial. J Affect Disord. 2000 Nov;60(2):121-30.
6.  Khoraminya N, Tehrani-Doost M, Jazayeri S, et al. Therapeutic effects of vitamin D as adjunctive therapy to fluoxetine in patients with major depressive disorder. ANZJP 2012;47(3):271-275.
7.  Syed EU, Wasay M, Awan S. Vitamin B12 supplementation in treating major depressive disorder: a randomized controlled trial. Open Neurol J 2013;7:44-48.
8.  SSRI-GAP package insert 2017. [BACK TO ARTICLES]