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January 5, 2012

Dealing with Bipolar Disorder at Work

A diagnosis of bipolar disorder may have a significant impact on your ability to work, but it doesn't mean you can't. Many people with this mental illness continue working, and enjoy fulfilling lives. One of your first considerations may be whether you need to tell your boss or coworkers about your illness. If bipolar disorder is affecting your work performance or causing absences, it may be helpful to explain what's going on. If you decide to talk about your illness at work, realize that most people have heard of bipolar disorder, but they may have an inaccurate understanding, or negative, preconceived notions, about what the illness involves. It's best to start with facts. Bipolar is a mood disorder causing dramatic up and down mood swings. As with other medical conditions, like diabetes or hypertension, you take medication and see a medical professional to help manage your symptoms. It may be helpful to provide materials about the illness, or suggest websites providing additional information about bipolar disorder. The better you advocate for yourself and educate others about the illness, the less skeptical and more supportive they may be. If you work in a large company, it may be better to go directly to your human resources department, especially if you believe your boss wouldn't be sympathetic or are starting a new job. Once you make your employer aware of your bipolar disorder, you also gain protection under the law via the U.S. Department of Justice Americans with Disabilities Act. This protection is important because once you've disclosed your condition; your employer is required to arrange reasonable accommodations to enable you to perform your essential job functions. You may need to request a flexible schedule, working from home, longer or more frequent breaks, natural lighting, phone calls to doctors or other support people, and time off for therapy appointments. Managing your illness while in a stressful and demanding workplace may often pose a significant challenge. At the same time, working offers emotional benefits, such as a stable and structured environment, the natural boost productivity reflects on self-esteem and an opportunity for growing social support. If you think you may be suffering from bipolar disorder, please see a mental health professional. You can also find more videos about bipolar disorder on this website

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Last Updated:
December 20, 2012