Bipolar Disorder, Unemployment and Addiction

Bipolar disorder is a serious illness characterized by manic and depressive episodes that cause extreme shifts in energy, mood, activity levels and the ability to perform life’s everyday tasks. Due to the unexpected appearance of symptoms, bipolar disorder can interfere with all areas of an individual’s life. Relationships can suffer, health problems can occur and performance abilities can decrease. As a result, a person’s job will likely be compromised. Bipolar disorder, therefore, has a direct relationship to unemployment.

Not being able to function normally at work can cost bipolar individuals their jobs. In some cases, the individual’s behavior or lack of performance can result in a very costly mistake, accident or issue that causes the individual’s termination, making it even more difficult to find a job in the future.

Being unemployed is devastating, especially for those with families depending on their income, but unemployment can be especially painful for a person with bipolar disorder. The stress, pressure, guilt, shame and embarrassment can be overwhelming and contribute to the re-emergence of a manic or depressive episode.

How Bipolar Disorder and Unemployment Influence Addiction

The symptoms of bipolar disorder can lead to addiction. Bipolar individuals often turn to drugs or alcohol in an attempt to self-medicate the many challenges, frustrations and deep mental and emotional pain they endure. Drugs and alcohol can alter one’s mood and energy levels, allowing a suffering individual to experience euphoria, a calming effect or emotional numbing.

Drug abuse, however, will only aggravate the symptoms of bipolar disorder, creating more pain and ultimately creating a cycle of pain and self-medicated abuse. This in turn opens the door for the development of addiction. Because bipolar disorder often co-exists with behavioral problems, including addiction, bipolar individuals are even more likely to face employment problems.

Unemployment can also trigger the development of addiction in bipolar individuals, even those who have been diagnosed and have followed treatment. Stress, emotional distress, major life changes and lowered self-esteem are all major triggers for bipolar episodes.

Losing a job or struggling to find a new job will take a toll on anyone, but the effects weigh much heavier on someone with bipolar disorder. To cope, a person may reach out to drugs or alcohol, instead of healthy alternatives, because they are already overcome with guilt, grief and shame. Struggling with bipolar disorder, unemployment and addiction is incredibly dangerous. The consequences can lead to reckless behavior that hurts the individual and others.