How can bipolar disorder affect performance at school or work?

Sheri Van Dijk
Psychiatry
If you have bipolar disorder and have experienced a depressive episode, you know the feeling of fatigue, being drained, and not having the energy or the motivation to do the things you need to do. Add this to the fact that depression can affect your ability to concentrate, solve problems, and make decisions, and it becomes quite obvious that going to school or work and performing up to your usual standards will be quite difficult when you're feeling depressed.

Going to work or school in a manic episode is just as problematic. The first challenge is making it to work, since you're feeling great and thinking about how much of your energy and creativity will be wasted on menial tasks. Next, you'll face difficulties concentrating, and chances are you'll be unable to slow your thoughts down enough to complete any goal-oriented activity. In addition to these problems, there are the conflicts that often arise. For example, you may be more irritable, or maybe you're feeling so good about yourself (to the point of feeling better than others) that you find yourself interacting with others in a negative way, damaging relationships. Or you may be using substances, further limiting your ability to function at school or work. This is often noticed by teachers or employers and could result in you being suspended from school or losing your job. It's a fact that people with bipolar disorder receive less education and lower wages than those without the diagnosis, and that they use more sick time and rely more on disability pensions, including worker's compensation.
The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook for Bipolar Disorder: Using DBT to Regain Control of Your Emotions and Your Life (New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook)

More About this Book

The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook for Bipolar Disorder: Using DBT to Regain Control of Your Emotions and Your Life (New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook)

Even if you've just been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, it's likely that you've been living with it for a long time. You've probably already developed your own ways of coping with recurring...
Ruth White, MPH
Social Work
For those of us with bipolar disorder, work often gets disrupted as our lives and emotions get disrupted. You may or may not choose to disclose your bipolar disorder, but episodes play out in work contexts in ways that directly affect productivity. Losing a job is often the outcome of a prolonged episode of bipolar disorder, and this can have a negative impact on the ability to seek or maintain medical treatment.
Bipolar 101: A Practical Guide to Identifying Triggers, Managing Medications, Coping with Symptoms, and More

More About this Book

Bipolar 101: A Practical Guide to Identifying Triggers, Managing Medications, Coping with Symptoms, and More

After receiving a bipolar diagnosis, you need clear answers. Bipolar 101 is a straightforward guide to understanding bipolar disorder. It includes all the information you need to control your...

Continue Learning about Living With Bipolar Disorder

Living With Bipolar Disorder

Living With Bipolar Disorder

To manage your bipolar disorder on a daily basis, it is essential that your keep your therapy appointments and take your medications as prescribed. If you experience side effects that you find intolerable, discuss them with your d...

octor. It’s also important to live a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, plenty of sleep and a nutritious diet to avoid other health risks associated with bipolar. Take steps to reduce stress and surround yourself with supportive friends and family who can intervene during manic episodes. When it’s well treated, bipolar disorder should not prevent you from having an enjoyable and successful life.
More

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.