3-4% of South Africans have Bipolar Disorder.
Not sure if you have Bipolar? Ask the experts today. Bipolar Day 26th May .
Over 4 million South Africans have Bipolar Disorder. For 3 -4 % of the population who are affected by this mental disorder, and their family
and friends, Bipolar is not something that “happens to someone else”.Bipolar is still incredibly stigmatized and society too often still
portrays those with the illness as ‘crazy’, ‘unstable’, and ‘dangerous’. With labels like this, it isn’t surprising that for many
people suffering from Bipolar Disorder it can take up to two years to receive treatment (40% of respondents ) and
68% discontinue their treatment, and a third feel they can handle the problem on their own, according to local research
by Linda Trump of C C.
Other research by the Mental Health and Poverty Project (MHaPP) at the Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health at the
University of Cape Town, say that economic and financial barriers influence a person’s access to mental healthcare and treatment. Evidence indicates that
mental ill-health is strongly associated with poverty and social deprivation - living in poverty, such as low socio-economic status;
exposure to stressful life events like crime and violence; inadequate housing, unemployment and social conflict, are all linked to mental
ill-health. In addition, the less a community is educated about mental illness, the more stigma and misunderstanding there is,
and the less likely people are to seek help.
Bipolar disorder is an illness that causes severe mood swings, from manic highs to deep depression. Bipolar is a medical illness that
requires treatment and support – something that many South Africans sadly lack. To address this issue, the South African Depression and
Anxiety Group (SADAG) has launched a toll-free line sponsored by Astra Zeneca - 0800 70 80 90 - and a linked SMS service (32312) to enable
callers, even from rural and isolated areas, to call SADAG for expert advice, information and counselling. The line is open 7 days a week
from 8am and 8pm.
Another way that SADAG is helping ‘Make mental health matter’ is by corroborating with Health24 to host an expert forum on Bipolar
Disorder on Tuesday 26th May. This online Question and Answer forum is open to everyone – patients, family members, friends, and anyone
interested in Bipolar Disorder - to enable them to ask questions of both psychiatrists and psychologists on issues about their health. If
you would like to ask a question about Bipolar Disorder, medication, therapy, or referrals, please post your questions online at
http://www.health24.co.za and click on the Bipolar Day icon. SADAG’s psychiatrist, psychologist and a counselor will answer your questions
between 18h00 and 20h00. This is a great new, opportunity and we encourage you to send your questions – even in advance.
Also launching on the 26th May is the film documentary by Katinka Heyns on living with Bipolar Disorder. The Bipolar Story will be shown
in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, and Durban. This is a local, hard-hitting production that shows the hardships patients with Bipolar
endure before they get an accurate diagnosis and treatment, and illustrates the critical need for understanding, support and
encouragement along with the correct medical treatment. Contact SADAG for times and info.
Bipolar is a treatable disorder that if left, increases the risk of suicide. We need to remember that like all chronic illnesses, Bipolar
can flare up from time to time, and cause friends, colleagues and loved ones to misunderstand the illness or see the person as trying to
attract attention. Education is key, and SADAG not only offers
counselling but also corporate and community talks to destigmatise all
mental illnesses. Support Groups are available.
If you have questions about Bipolar Disorder, use National Bipolar Awareness Day to get
Facts about Bipolar Disorder
• Bipolar Disorder affects up to 3- 4% of the population in South Africa
• Bipolar Disorder is the sixth leading cause of disability in the world
• Bipolar Disorder is not restricted to any social or education class, race, or nationality
• Bipolar Disorder was previously known as Manic-Depressive illness
• Bipolar Disorder is a physical illness marked by extreme changes in mood, energy, thinking and behaviour
• Bipolar Disorder often disrupts work, school, family, and social life
• Men and women are equally affected; however men tend to have more manic episodes while women experience more depressive episodes
• Famous people in the past, like Winston Churchill, Isaac Newton, Abraham Lincoln, Vincent Van Gogh and others were all Bipolar sufferers.
• Bipolar Disorder is believed to be a combination of biochemical, genetic and psychological factors.
• Bipolar disorder typically begins in adolescence or early adulthood and can continue throughout life.
• Bipolar Disorder can also affect children, however diagnosis is difficult as many symptoms mimic emotions and other behaviours such as ADHD
• Bipolar Disorder in children significantly impairs functioning in school and at home with the family
• It is not always recognized as an illness, and people who have it may suffer needlessly for years or even decades
• Bipolar Disorder is treatable, and is not a character flaw or a sign of personal weakness; very effective treatments are available
• If you suspect you, a family member, or a friend has possible Bipolar Disorder, you should contact SADAG on 0800 70 80 90.
Our Website www.sadag.co.za if full of helpful hints for bipolar and the latest international information under Media