Bipolar is the sixth leading cause of disability in the world.

Over one million Mzansi people suffer from this medical issue that requires treatment and support, something that many lack.

Men and women are equally affected, but men tend to have more hectic episodes while women experience more depressive episodes.

Doctors say patients need guidance and support in understanding what their diagnosis of bipolar means and what their treatment entails, as well as what medication they will be taking and why.

Bipolar (previously called manic-depression) affects about 2% of the population.

Sufferers swing between depression, loss of interest in normal activities, loss of energy, inability to concentrate, and suicidal thoughts right through to irritation.

They also experience extremely elevated moods, feeling invincible, an inflated self-esteem, decreased need for sleep, and racing thoughts and speech.

The change in mood can be experienced by those around the sufferer.

What can families and friends do to help?


  • Learn about its causes, treatments and symptoms. Know the difference and warning signs between manic and depressive episodes.
  • Encourage your loved one to stick to their treatment plan, including medication.
  • Help them avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • If your loved ones become ill with a mood episode and suddenly feel you are interfering, remember that the illness is affecting them.
  • Know the warning signs of suicide. Take any threats as real and serious.
  • When they recover from an episode, let them to adjust to life and don’t rush or neglect them.
  • Treat them normally once they have recovered, but watch for the symptoms.

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