A spotlight on bipolar mood disorder

By Life Mental Health, a leading provider of private mental health services in South Africa provided by the Life Healthcare Group

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of emotional and mental support for all persons, especially those diagnosed with a chronic mental health condition, including but not limited to major depression, bipolar mood disorders, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorders.

Affecting over 4 million South Africans[1] and approximately 45 million people globally[2], Bipolar Mood Disorder is a mental health condition that may involve episodes of serious mania and depression. The person’s mood can change from overly high and irritable to sad and hopeless, and then back again, with periods of regular mood in between. The mental health condition typically manifests during adolescence or early adulthood and may continue throughout life.[3]

“Bipolar Mood Disorder does not discriminate and can affect anyone and their relationships, work performance and daily routines, which is why it is crucial to be correctly diagnosed so that people can have better-quality lifestyles,” states Dr Riyas Fadal, Manager: National Clinical Products at Life Healthcare.

The three most common types of Bipolar Mood Disorders are:

  • Bipolar I Disorder which involves periods of severe mood episodes ranging from mania to depression.
  • Bipolar II Disorder which is a milder form of mood elevation, involving milder episodes of hypomania that alternate with periods of severe depression
  • Cyclothymic disorder which describes brief periods of hypomanic symptoms alternating with brief periods of depressive symptoms that are not as intense or as long-lasting as seen in full hypomanic episodes or full depressive episodes[4]

A critical step ahead of considering treatment is to acknowledge and diagnose the condition and establish the family and the mental health care user’s immediate support structure to gain an understanding of the condition.

So how is Bipolar Mood Disorder treated?

The type of Bipolar Mood Disorder and the phase in which the mental health care user is in will determine the choice of treatment required. It is also vital to educate loved ones on how to appropriately care for a person with Bipolar Mood Disorder as well as have them attend counselling and support groups if needed. Life Mental Health’s multidisciplinary teams including the psychiatrist, psychologist, occupational therapist and social worker assist in diagnosing and supporting the mental health care user through the journey of.

HAVE YOU READ: What to do when depression affects your work

Fighting stigma

Stigma is a reality for people with mental health conditions such as Bipolar Mood Disorder which can hinder their ability to achieve wellness. Community education and understanding around mental health conditions is key to helping mental health users better manage their conditions. Bipolar Mood Disorder may occur due to a physiological and/or chemical imbalance or dysfunction similar to diabetes and other common illnesses. With the correct treatment and support, those diagnosed with the condition can lead fulfilling and productive lives.

“Bipolar Mood Disorder isn’t a reason to shun or treat a person differently, so it is up to us as a society to provide support and a caring atmosphere so that people are comfortable with seeking out help, diagnosis and treatment. At Life Mental Health we offer best in class treatments and facilities to give people a safe and nurturing environment,” concludes Fadal. 

Life Mental Health is a leading provider of private mental health services at nine facilities in four provinces across the country. For more information about the treatment of Bipolar Mood Disorder, visit the Life Healthcare website.


[1] https://www.sadag.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=47:3-4-of-south-africans-have-bipolar-disorder&catid=57&Itemid=149
[2] https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-disorders#:~:text=activities%20is%20important.-,Bipolar%20disorder,45%20million%20people%20worldwide1
[3] https://www.sadag.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1838&Itemid=147
[4] https://www.safmh.org/mental-disorders/



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