Caring for the mind is as important and crucial as caring for the body. In fact, one cannot be healthy without the other…

Sid Garza-Hillman

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Because we are passionate about Namibia, its people and their Mental Health,  Bel Esprit Hospital offers in- and out-patient services.

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What is bipolar?

Is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression).

“when I was high, I was high as the sky, but when I was low, I was as low as a snake’s belly.”

This quote was taken from a patient diagnosed and treated for Bipolar Mood Disorder in her 80’s. it illustrates the oscillation of mood between mania and depression that can all encompassing and disruptive of normal daily activities for the affected individual with bipolar.

How do I know I have bipolar mood disorder?

Knowing whether you have bipolar mood disorder or not, is not as easy as knowing that you have a high blood pressure or any other medical condition. Therefore, you need to see a qualified psychiatrist, psychologist or any health personnel with sufficient knowledge in mental health field to make a proper diagnosis. At Bel Esprit Mental Hospital, we can help you know whether you are suffering from bipolar or not.

What causes bipolar
The exact causes of bipolar disorder has yet to be determined. Scientific evidence supports a chemical imbalance in the brain, although the cause of the imbalance remains unclear. These are few causes
• hereditary factors (research shows that this disorder runs in family already known with bipolar)
• environmental triggers (stressful life events) are influential (Soreff & McInnes, 2008).
• Biochemical (Early studies have associated symptoms of depression with a functional deficiency of norepinephrine and dopamine, and mania with a functional excess of these amines).
Signs and symptoms suggesting that you have bipolar disorder

Common signs and symptoms of mania include:
• Feeling unusually “high” and optimistic OR extremely irritable
• Unrealistic, grandiose beliefs about one’s abilities or powers
• Sleeping very little, but feeling extremely energetic
• Talking so rapidly that others can’t keep up
• Racing thoughts; jumping quickly from one idea to the next
• Highly distractible, unable to concentrate
• Impaired judgment and impulsiveness
• Acting recklessly without thinking about the consequences
• Delusions and hallucinations (in severe cases)

Hypomania symptoms
Hypomania is a less severe form of mania. In a hypomanic state, you’ll likely feel euphoric, energetic, and productive, but will still be able to carry on with your day-to-day life without losing touch with reality. To others, it may seem as if you’re merely in an unusually good mood. However, hypomania can result in bad decisions that harm your relationships, career, and reputation. In addition, hypomania often escalates to full-blown mania or is followed by a major depressive episode.

Symptoms of bipolar depression include:
• Feeling hopeless, sad, or empty
• Irritability
• Inability to experience pleasure
• Fatigue or loss of energy
• Physical and mental sluggishness
• Appetite or weight changes
• Sleep problems
• Concentration and memory problems
• Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
• Thoughts of death or suicide

Symptoms of a mixed episode

A mixed episode of bipolar disorder features symptoms of both mania or hypomania and depression. Common signs of a mixed episode include depression combined with agitation, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, distractibility, and racing thoughts. This combination of high energy and low mood makes for a particularly high risk of suicide.

What is rapid cycling?

Some people with bipolar disorder develops “rapid cycling” where they experience four or more episodes of mania or depression within a 12-month period. Mood swings can occur very quickly, like a rollercoaster randomly moving from high to low and back again over a period of days or even hours. Rapid cycling can leave you feeling dangerously out of control and most commonly occurs if your bipolar disorder symptoms are not being adequately treated.

The different faces of bipolar disorder

Bipolar I Disorder (mania or a mixed episode) – This is the classic manic-depressive form of the illness, characterized by at least one manic episode or mixed episode. Usually—but not always—Bipolar I Disorder also involves at least one episode of depression.
Bipolar II Disorder (hypomania and depression) – In Bipolar II disorder, you don’t experience full-blown manic episodes. Instead, the illness involves episodes of hypomania and severe depression.
Cyclothymia (hypomania and mild depression) – Cyclothymia is a milder form of bipolar disorder that consists of cyclical mood swings. However, the symptoms are less severe than full-blown mania or depression.

Treatment for bipolar disorder

If you spot the symptoms of bipolar disorder in yourself or someone else, don’t wait to get help. Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away; in fact, it will almost certainly get worse. Living with untreated bipolar disorder can lead to problems in everything from your career to your relationships to your health. But bipolar disorder is highly treatable, so diagnosing the problem and starting treatment as early as possible can help prevent these complications.
If you’re reluctant to seek treatment because you like the way you feel when you’re manic, remember that the energy and euphoria come with a price. Mania and hypomania often turn destructive, hurting you and the people around you.

Treatment basics

At Bel Esprit we follow “A Biopsychosocial Model type of therapy”
This is model involves the combination of both;

• Medication
• Psychotherapy
• Life style changes
• Social support

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