The Impact of Bipolar Disorder on Work Performance

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The Impact of Bipolar Disorder on Work Performance


This paper explores the symptoms associated with bipolar disorder and the effect of bipolar disorder on work performance. Several articles were explored to define bipolar disorder and the disorder’s impact on work performance, the employer’s response and the vocational rehabilitative field response. Keywords: bipolar disorder, symptoms, work performance, co workers

The Impact of Bipolar Disorder on Work Performance

For people with psychiatric disabilities, symptoms of the disability often fluctuate between periods of remission and reoccurrence, which may interfere with workplace performance and relationships with coworkers (Banks, Charleston, Mank 2001). Because long-term persistent mental illness is sometimes an invisible disability, individuals often choose not to disclose the disability to the employer. Psychiatric disabilities are a leading cause of disability being linked with substantial increased absenteeism from work (Hilton, Sheridan, Cleary, Whiteford 2009). The absenteeism was defined as working less than the employer expected. Research has noted that there is a need to distinguish between psychiatric disabilities and the related symptoms and the ability to fulfill work responsibilities (Dewa 2007). Bipolar disorder is a psychiatric disability in which the symptoms impact work performance, employer/employee relationship, and the vocational rehabilitation field response. Bipolar disorder is a highly complex psychiatric condition that can be characterized by symptoms of depression, hypomania or mania, or indeed, a combination of these mood states in an individual at the same time. Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in things such as: mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry-out daily tasks. Symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe. Bipolar disorder symptoms can result in damaged relationships, poor job performance, poor school performance, and can lead to things such as suicide. Bipolar disorder is not easy to spot when it starts. When the symptoms occur they may seem like separate problems, not recognized as parts of a larger problem. When this occurs people suffer for a couple years before they are properly diagnosed and treated for the illness. Bipolar disorder is a long-term illness that must be managed throughout a person’s life.    People with bipolar disorder experience unusually intense emotional states that occur in distinct periods, which is known as “mood episodes”. An overly joyful and overexcited state is known as a “manic episode”. An extremely sad or hopeless state is known as a “depressive episode” is described as a lack of energy, a lack of enthusiasm, decreased confidence, decreased productivity, and withdrawal from others (Montejano, Goetzel,Ozminkowski 2005). When a mood episode includes symptoms of both mania and depression, this state is known as a “mixed state”. Individuals with bipolar disorder may be explosive and irritable during a mood episode. There are extreme changes in energy, activity, sleep, and behavior that go along with these changes in mood. In some cases it is possible for a person with bipolar disorder to experience a long-lasting period of unstable moods rather than discrete episodes of mania or depression. Some of the symptoms are so severe that a person cannot perform correctly on their job.

Bipolar disorder may reveal itself in the workplace in a variety of ways. Many individuals report minor physical complaints (e.g. body aches) or irritability may be apparent rather than overt signs of sadness, such as tearfulness or a gloomy demeanor (Montejano, Goetzel,Ozminkowski 2005). Irritability may be expressed by angry outburst or overreactions to minor workplace annoyances. Bipolar employees who have a sense of worthlessness, a depressive symptom, may make unfounded comments...
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