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How Bipolar Disorder Can Affect Your Job

Bipolar disorder is a mental health issue defined by a severe shift in moods between depression and manic episodes. It is often assumed that bipolar disorder comes with moment-to-moment mood shifts. But in most cases, people may spend days or weeks in depression, normal mood, and manic phases.  

Mental health issues can get in the way of multiple aspects of your life, especially your work. Mood disorders can be particularly troubling because they can cause your motivation and self-confidence to tank. 

The nature of bipolar disorder can make it difficult to maintain a steady schedule. However, when a mental health problem is being addressed, and you’re receiving treatment for it, it’s possible to learn to manage bipolar disorder in a working environment. Learn more about how to manage bipolar disorder while on the job.

Working in a Manic Phase

A manic phase is often seen as a good part of bipolar disorder though it comes with some serious challenges. A manic phase refers to an extremely elevated mood that’s characterized by feelings of empowerment, self-confidence, racing thoughts, and high energy levels. Manic episodes are most common with bipolar type II, which is defined by severe manic episodes that require a hospital stay or manic symptoms that last for seven days with periods of normal or low mood. 

Manic symptoms may make you feel charismatic, idea-oriented, self-motivated, and quick to complete tasks. All of these things are helpful in the workplace. However, it can also cause you to overpromise, take on more than you can handle, and accept more risks.

Working in a Depressed Phase

Depressive phases are very common with bipolar disorder type I. A depressive phase can sap you of all your energy, motivation, and self-confidence. Depression can make it hard to get out of bed, let alone getting up and going to work. People with bipolar disorder also sometimes feel like frauds because their depression takes away their drive and confidence to deliver on tasks started in normal or manic phases. Sometimes it may feel like you’re not the same person that you were last week. 

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Tips for Working with Bipolar Disorder

The first step in working with bipolar disorder, or any mental illness, is to seek help from professionals. Speaking to a doctor or clinician can help you get the medical or psychotherapeutic treatment you need to manage the disorder. 

After that, there are a few things you can do to manage your work life. Entrepreneur Colton Mulligan suggests having a routine that keeps you accountable. As your mood ebbs and flows, your routine can help you stay on task and keep you from giving into extreme moods.

It may also help to surround yourself with a support system that can encourage you during depressive phases and rein you in during manic phases. If you have a solid support system at home, it can help your day-to-day management of bipolar disorder. It can be extremely helpful to have supportive people in your work environment as well. 

A trusted coworker, supervisor, or partner can help make the most of your periods of high energy and help you through periods of depression. 

Sources

Legg, T. J. (2018, June 4). 7 Steps for Dealing with a Depressive Episode. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/strategies-for-dealing-with-depressive-episode

National Institute of Mental Health. (2020, January). Bipolar Disorder. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder/index.shtml

National Institute of Mental Health. (2018, February). Depression. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml

Purse, M. (2020, June 30). What Is a Manic Episode? Retrieved from Jhttps://www.verywellmind.com/how-to-recognize-a-manic-or-hypomanic-episode-380316

WebMD. (2018, August 20). Bipolar at Work – Bipolar Disorder: In Our Own Words. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k84QFBQV0mg

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