From a euphoric state and exaggerated energy, a bipolar person can easily go to the other extreme, reaching depression. This mental disorder is characterized by extreme mood swings that, left untreated, end up affecting all aspects of the sufferer’s life. Today, we will discuss a question that resonates in the corridors of empathy and equality: Is bipolar disorder a disability?
Women and men are equally affected by this mental disorder from which, according to the estimates of the World Health Organization, around 5% of the world’s adult population suffers. Bipolar disorder is the sixth leading cause of disability in the world, with major repercussions on many aspects of the lives of those affected by it.
The average age at which it sets in is 25, but it can start even early in childhood or after the age of 40-50, according to statistics from the American non-governmental organization Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.
What Causes Bipolar Disorder A Disability?
Between 80% and 90% of people affected by this mental condition have at least one close relative who experiences it or severe depression or anxiety, which shows that bipolar disorder has a genetic component. It can remain latent for a long time in the absence of triggering factors. They can be:
- a major stressful event;
- a traumatic experience in childhood or adulthood;
- alcohol or drug abuse.
What Are the Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?
In bipolar disorder, the dramatic episodes of emotional ups and downs do not have a fixed pattern. The patient can maintain his mood (depressive or manic) for a longer period, before moving to the opposite state. These episodes can last for several weeks, months, and sometimes even years.
How serious the condition becomes differs from one person to another and can change over time, becoming more or less severe.
Symptoms of Mania:
- excessive happiness, hope and enthusiasm;
- sudden changes from cheerfulness to irritability, anger and hostility;
- rapid speech and poor concentration;
- increased energy and less need for sleep;
- unusually high sexual desire;
- big and unrealistic plans;
- unrealistic thinking;
- excessive use of drugs or alcohol;
- lack of appetite;
- a greater sense of self-confidence and well-being;
- distraction from daily activities.
During depressive periods, a person with bipolar disorder and disability may have the following states:
- loss of energy;
- feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness;
- loss of enthusiasm for things he once enjoyed;
- concentration difficulties;
- speaking in a low voice;
- decrease in sexual desire and inability to feel pleasure;
- uncontrollable crying;
- problems regarding decision-making;
- changes in appetite;
- thoughts of death or suicide;
- suicide attempt.
How Many Types Can Bipolar Disorder Be?
Psychiatrist Mihaela Gheorghiaș says that there are two major types of bipolar disorder:
- Bipolar I disorder – with extreme, long-lasting highs (mania) as well as depressive episodes.
- Bipolar II disorder – with less extreme highs (hypomania), lasting only a few hours or days, as well as depressive episodes.
Is Bipolar Disorder A Disability?
Yes, bipolar disorder can be considered a disability, particularly under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the United States. The recognition aims to ensure equal opportunities and accommodations for individuals with bipolar psychotic disorder in various aspects of life, such as employment and education. However, the impact of the condition varies among individuals, and not everyone with bipolar disorder may perceive it as a disability. It’s essential to approach the topic with sensitivity and foster understanding about mental health challenges.
Read More: Is Adjustment Disorder A Mental Illness
Dangers During Manic Episodes in People with Bipolar Disorder
Some people describe the manic state as a belief that they are the navel of the earth. They have the impression that they are indestructible and can do anything. Although it may sound attractive, this self-confidence is artificially boosted and has no real basis. These personas can be like a child who thinks they have superpowers. So, people with bipolar disorder can put themselves and others at risk. Furthermore, with bipolar disorder can you get disability
In addition, the manic episode represents a disconnection from reality. With a lack of awareness of the consequences of one’s actions marked impulsivity and difficulties in self-regulation. All of this can add up to a recipe for disaster that can result in long-term injury.
Manic episodes are defined as a period of at least one week; in which there is an overflowing energy and an uncharacteristic expansiveness; or irritability and hostility. From irritability and hostility to a state of maximum activation, it is only a step to violence, especially if those around try to prevent manic people from doing what they want. By some estimates, between 11% and 16% of people with BP have had at least one violent episode. When we approach an affected person, it is important to be aware of the fact that he does not behave normally.
Being extremely impulsive and with a tendency to act before judging, it is much more difficult for her to control her violent outbursts than it is for people without the symptoms of the disorder. Especially against the background of the psychomotor agitation characteristic of mania. It is very important not to contradict or anger the affected person in a manic episode, both for their sake and for ours.
Self-destructive behavior is more common than violent behavior directed at others. It can consist both of cutting or suicide attempts; as well as dangerous behaviors; such as unprotected sex with strangers; drunk driving; crossing the street without securing; and swimming in unsafe areas. As much as possible, it is good to try to protect people with bipolar disorder from themselves during mania. If we believe we cannot provide them with a safe environment, we must resort to professional psychiatric treatment options and even involuntary hospitalization.
Violation of The Law
Grandomania – defining manic episodes, creates the feeling that rules and laws do not apply to people in this state. Combined with impulsivity, this can lead to highly problematic behaviors:
- exceeding the speed limit;
- indecent exposure in public or disturbing the public peace;
The manic state is incompatible with the laws of society, and sometimes even of physics. Unfortunately, they still apply to them. Thus, a person in hypomanic episodes can create problems for himself, the consequences of which will be felt in the long term. That’s why loved ones must do their best to watch over them during these times and help them keep their actions under control.
One of the most important effects of mania is emptying the bank account. In the worst cases, it can lead to significant debts, both to banks and acquaintances. Maniacs are impulsive shoppers, and the ease with which they can order any product online at any time only exacerbates this problem. In addition, they are excessively generous; giving away both valuables and money; known and unknown. Another common behavior is gambling; which can ruin them financially extremely quickly.
These actions can cause true bankruptcy; which can take them years to get out of. Bystanders can try to help them by taking their cards, blocking gambling sites from their electronic devices, or helping them return the products they bought so they can get their money back.
Destruction of Personal and Professional Relationships
The manic episode is characterized by excessive and incoherent talking, impulsivity, and frantic plans to start new businesses and organize events. All this can cause manic people to resign from their jobs, or to be unable to keep their commitments. Also, they can use their professional contacts for business ideas they have, but which they will not bring to fruition. This will leave a bad impression on the people they contact, who will probably not want to work with them in the future.
In addition, people in a manic episode may cheat on their partners due to hypersexuality, or flirt with co-workers. This leads to the possibly irreparable degradation of these relationships. Last but not least, from the intense desire to express themselves and share the countless thoughts that go through their heads, they can make multiple posts online. These can damage the public image they have built, especially if the profile is also visible to bosses or colleagues.
Other Dangers During Episodes
As mentioned, depressive episodes are at the complete opposite pole of the symptom spectrum of bipolar disorder a disability. They are characterized by sadness; lack of hope and energy; anhedonia or lack of pleasure; insomnia or hypersomnia (excessive sleeping); lack of appetite or overeating and recurrent thoughts of death. Just because it’s a passive state doesn’t mean it’s risk-free.
Self-harm, Including Suicide Attempts
Suicide is by far the greatest danger for people with BP. They have an extremely high risk of suicide. This is one of the greatest risks of mortality. Some studies estimate that between 25% and 60% of people with BP have attempted suicide at least once. And between 4% and 19% managed to end their lives. Suicide is a common danger in the two episodes, although the causes are different.
In mania, self-harm and suicide are rather consequences of impulsive and irresponsible behavior; in depression, they appear as a result of sadness; the lack of hope, and the will to live.
Loved ones of people with bipolar disorder must monitor self-harm behavior (signs of cuts, burns, bruises). Even more important are the suicidal elements (statements such as ” I don’t want to live anymore “; ” Life has no purpose “; lack of plans for the future; planning for death; by writing a will; a farewell letter). If we observe these behaviors; we can try to discuss them. It is a myth that talking about suicide can cause someone to act. On the contrary, it can help them feel less alone and misunderstood. Additionally, during the conversation, we can try to get them to find more support resources. They can be psychotherapy groups; individual therapy; a new psychiatrist; or online support groups for treating bipolar disorder.
Mental degradation brings with it physical degradation. During a depressive period, whether it occurs in a person with bipolar disorder or a person with depression, it is very common for there to be a high degree of neglect of hygiene and personal care. This occurs as a result of a lack of energy and motivation to do anything. Depressed people often can’t get out of bed and feel that even the smallest action is a challenge they can’t cope with. In addition, lack of hygiene makes them feel shame and inadequacy. This sinks them even deeper into the seemingly never-ending depression.
If we know someone in this situation, we can offer to help them. But we must be careful not to be intrusive and make them feel humiliated. Some things we can do are: prepare a warm and relaxing bath; prepare a warm and healthy meal and eat it with them; a manicure appointment or let’s do it ourselves if they don’t feel able to leave the house. All this can be done, of course, only with the prior consent of the respective persons.
Losing Your Job
Depression is a real disability, costing billions of euros globally due to the loss of productivity of affected individuals. Work can be demanding and difficult even when we are healthy. In the context of a debilitating condition like bipolar disorder long term disability, when going through a depressive episode, work is often downright impossible. Unfortunately, there are quite a few understanding bosses. So most often a depressive episode comes together with unemployment.
If we want to support someone going through this, we can help them claim their legal rights. Because firing someone because of mental illness is considered discrimination and is illegal. We can also provide them with financial support until they overcome this period, and we can help them find a new job when they feel ready.
Loss of Relationships
Depression is an isolating condition. When in a depressive episode, people with bipolar disorder, who are highly sociable during hypomanic or manic episodes, end up ignoring and withdrawing from everyone they know. They often don’t understand what caused the distancing, feel hurt, and cut ties with them. Paradoxically, depression breaks the bonds of those affected with those around them. Although they are extremely necessary in the fight against depression. It is very difficult to get out of the black hole of depression without the support and valuable connections to show you that you have something to live for.
If no one calls you anymore, depression will make you think that no one cares about you because you are good for nothing. More than anything, you need proof that it isn’t. If you want to help someone in a depressive episode, make sure you always check in on how they’re feeling, even if they don’t respond to you all the time. Understand that the lack of response is not something personal, but only a consequence of their mental condition.
Disability can most often be canceled if there is a positive result from treatment and the restoration of important skills. Bipolar disorder a disability can be treated. It is a long-term condition that requires continuous care. People who have four or more episodes of mood swings in a year, or who also have problems with drug or alcohol consumption, may have forms of the disease that are much more difficult to treat. Choose Renewed Mental Health Group for the greatest support.
Treatment can make a big difference. Through a combination of medical care, Psychiatric medication management, psychotherapy, lifestyle changes, and the support of friends and family, you can feel better.