Can I Work With Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental condition caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain that causes severe mood swings. Those who suffer from bipolar disorder can have manic tendencies and bouts of depression, often with no readily identifiable cause. It is common for those with bipolar disorder to experience great emotional highs and lows, or for these mood swings to occur quickly and without notice or apparent reason.

One phenomenon common among those with bipolar disorder is a “mixed state.” When someone with bipolar disorder is in a mixed state, the persons inner moods become conflicted, creating sensations of anxiety and confusion. These mixed mood episodes all too often result in suicide or thoughts of suicide, manic behavior, clinical depression, fatigue, insomnia, delusions, excessive anger, and belligerence.

Individuals with bipolar disorder are at a much greater risk of suicide than the general population. Experts place the risk between ten and twenty times as high as the rest of the population.

The mood swings and mixed state episodes common amongst bipolar disorder sufferers can affect nearly every aspect of a person’s life. Marriages involving a person with bipolar disorder are 90% likely to end in divorce. Those with bipolar disorder often have difficulty interacting with others on an ongoing basis in academic or employment situation. Needless to say, it can be difficult to hold down any kind of a job when your mental state can swing from everything being fine one moment to desiring to kill yourself (or someone else) the next, especially when these swings are unpredictable.

While bipolar disorder can be treated with psychotropic medications and psychological therapy, there is no cure. Different individuals respond to treatment differently. If you are considering applying for Social Security Disability as a result of your bipolar disorder, it is important to make sure that you are under a doctor’s care, that you follow all treatments prescribed, and that you thoroughly document every attempt at alleviating the debilitating symptoms of bipolar disorder.

Bipolar Disorder and Your Ability to Perform Physical Work

While bipolar disorder does not directly affect your ability to walk, sit, lift, pull, or otherwise perform physical labor, the Social Security Disability system does recognize that it can adversely affect your ability to work at repetitive tasks or to work with other people or with the general public on an ongoing basis. To determine whether your bipolar makes it impossible for you to perform physical work (a qualification for Social Security Disability), the SSA will look at the severity of your symptoms. It is critical that your doctor and/or mental health professional clearly lists all of the activities that you cannot reasonably be expected to perform.

Bipolar Disorder and Your Ability to Perform Sedentary Work

Sedentary work is work that does not involve significant physical labor. This encompasses mostly sit down jobs. Most such jobs require you to be able to interact with others in an office setting, or to concentrate on tasks that require manual dexterity. Those with bipolar disorder may have a great deal of difficulty doing either of these when they are in a mixed mood episode.

Because of this, it is important when applying for Social Security Disability that you include detailed accounts of your mixed mood episodes, including their duration and severity. If your mental health professional is not already having you keep a journal or diary, start keeping one, as this may be used for evidence during a hearing.

If you apply for Social Security Disability benefits due to bipolar disorder, consider having a qualified SSD lawyer handle your claim for you. Besides the fact that your claim is considerably more likely to be accepted, your Social Security Disability attorney will save you a lot of the stress of going through the process.