Managing Bipolar Disorder at the Workplace

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Managing Bipolar Disorder at the Workplace

Bipolar disorder, commonly called manic-depressive illness, is a mental health condition followed by extreme mood swings between manic episodes of high energy, enthusiasm, and euphoria and depressive episodes of sadness, hopelessness, and despair. These episodes can vary in duration and intensity and significantly impact a person's daily functioning.

Types of Bipolar Disorder     

Bipolar disorder symptoms include increased activity levels, racing thoughts, decreased need for sleep, and impulsive behavior. 
There are 3 types of disorders: 

  • Bipolar I - is marked by at least one manic episode that lasts for a week or more.
  • Bipolar II - includes at least one hypomanic episode & one depressive episode.
  • Cyclothymic disorder - is a milder form of bipolar disorder marked by periods of hypomanic and depressive symptoms lasting at least two years.

Bipolar Disorder in the Workplace      

How Bipolar Disorder affects job performance:      

People with bipolar disorder often face unique challenges in the workplace. 

1. Stressful work environments and unpredictable challenges can significantly impact their mental health. 

2. Irregular or extended work hours can also disrupt their stability and job performance, while shift work or frequent sleep disruptions can disrupt their mood patterns. 

3. Full-time work is too demanding for a person going through this disorder to manage, mainly when dealing with the highs of mania or the lows of depression. 

4. Coping Mechanisms & Boundaries are essential strategies to manage bipolar disorder symptoms in the workplace, such as stress-management techniques and setting healthy boundaries. Working with a mental health professional to develop a plan for managing symptoms while on the job may also be helpful.

Challenges Faced by Employers and Colleagues:      

A person who has Bipolar disorder has difficulties fitting into different workplace situations. 

1. Criticism from a colleague or subordinate due to professional detachment or moodiness can trigger feelings of abandonment or rejection, leading to inappropriate anger, intense emotions, self-harm, or other impulsive behaviors. 

2. Emotional reactivity, individuals with bipolar disorder may tend to see people as all-good or all-bad, using this coping mechanism to avoid abandonment or rejection.

Helping Employees with Bipolar Disorder     

1. Prioritize: As an employer, it is crucial to prioritize providing employees with Bipolar Disorder with as much consistency as possible to ensure a stable work environment.

2. Positive Culture: Valuing each employee's quirks and personalities as potential strengths can help create a positive workplace culture. It is essential to focus on expectations from all employees rather than singling out specific behaviors.

3. Support: It is necessary to pay attention to the subtle signs and provide support and resources to workers with Bipolar disorder to help them thrive in the workplace. Ensuring that the workplace is inclusive, supportive, and understanding for all employees is crucial.

Treatment/ Therapy for Bipolar Disorder:      

Therapy is an essential part of treating bipolar disorder.

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is often used for bipolar disorder to learn coping strategies, identify triggers, and manage symptoms. CBT can also help individuals improve their self-esteem and communication skills, which can be particularly helpful for those who experience depressive episodes.
  • Family-focused therapy can also be effective for individuals with bipolar disorder, as it helps improve family communication and understanding.
  • Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT) focuses on establishing a routine and managing social relationships, which can help stabilize mood and prevent relapse.
  • Medication management is often necessary for treating bipolar disorder. An Amalgamation of therapy and medication can help individuals with bipolar disorder achieve long-term stability and improve their quality of life. Working with a mental health professional to develop an individualized treatment plan that addresses specific needs and goals is essential.


It is necessary for people who are suffering from bipolar disorder to learn how to cope with workplace stress and practice stress management at work. But it is more important that the stigma around mental health should be removed so that people suffering from it don't have a problem expressing themselves. 

If you're someone who is suffering from bipolar disorder, then get connected with Solh Wellness. At Solh, we provide personalized mental health solutions at affordable rates with easy access to individuals. Take a step towards better mental health and a better life. Download the Solh Wellness App now!