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Take bipolar to nychiatrist
INSTEAD of writing his first semester university exams, he went to various hospitals to get rid of the voices in his head. Kgotso Molefe, 19, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in June last year just as he was about to write his first exams at university. "The exam stress and family issues ... triggered my bipolar disorder," Molefe said. He was speaking at a South African Depression and Anxiety Group bipolar awareness day, on Monday. According to the mental health support and advocacy group, bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood and energy levels and also limits the ability to carry out dayto-day activities. "I woke up that day on June 1 feeling very weird. I was hearing voices in my head. I did not know what was happening," Molefe said. He said he could not tell his mother because she would have thought he was trying to avoid writing his exam. Instead, Molefe took a taxi and headed to Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital. They told him there were no psychiatrists available that day, and he went to two other private hospitals where he was told the same thing. Molefe went home and told his mother. The following Monday they went to a psychologist, who referred Molefe to a psychiatrist. After a few tests he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Dr Sheldon Zilesnic, a psychiatrist, said it was important that psychiatrists, not general practitioners, treated bipolar patients. He also said bipolar disorder was previously recognised as manic depression and is often misunderstood. Education about the disorder is essential — "particularly for parents of people with bipolar", Zilesnic said. "Being educated about it [bipolar disorder] will help in dealing with [ill] relatives." He said patients should keep a mood diary, which will help them deal with the disorder, and that it was important to stay on medication. Zilesnic also said patients should see their psychiatrist as often as they needed to. Molefe said his family, friends and community members fully supported him, especially when he helped educate them on what bipolar disorder was about and how to handle him when he is not feeling well. After missing his exams, he is now back in university and studying psychology. There are two types of bipolar — bipolar 1 and 2. The first shows in manic episodes which tend to be very severe and sufferers need to be taken to hospital. The second one shows in depressive periods and people experience mild "highs". Only 2% of South Africa's population suffer from it, but many more are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. nkosin@sowetan. co. za MANIC symptoms include: Severe changes in mood, either extremely irritable or overly silly and elated; Overly inflated selfesteem, grandiosity, increased energy; Decreased need for sleep, ability to go with very little or no sleep for days without tiring; Increased talking, changes topics too quickly, cannot be interrupted; Distracted, attention moves constantly from one thing to the next; and Disregard of risk, excessive involvement in risky behaviour or activities. — South African Anxiety and Depression Group BIPOLAR disorder in numbers: 62.9% of those in the bipolar spectrum have an anxiety disorder; Bipolar is the sixth leading cause of disability in the world; The median age of onset for bipolar disorder is 25; 30% of individuals with bipolar disorder will STUDENT HEARS VOICES, DOES THE RIGHT THING