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Bipolar Disorder Health Center

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Tips for Managing Bipolar Disorder at Work

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Other Tips for Managing Bipolar Disorder at Work continued...

Take your medications as prescribed. It may be tempting to go without treating your mania. After all, this is when many people feel most productive. But that can be risky thinking. During mania, you’re more likely to make mistakes and can become irritable, making working relationships challenging. Also, untreated mania can lead to depression.

If you tend to forget your medications, it may help to set a timer or reminder on your computer. Keeping your medication in a plastic container bottle can help you guard your privacy.

Keep side effects at bay. Does your medication make you sleepy or jittery at work? It’s not uncommon for people with bipolar disorder to need extra sleep -- 8 to 10 or even up to 12 -- hours a day. Your doctor may be able to change your dosing time or amount to help reduce drowsiness or other side effects at work. Ask about other ways to cope with side effects. For example, taking some medication with food can sometimes lessen nausea or upset stomach.

Don’t ignore symptoms. Even when you’re doing everything right, you may still have an episode of depression or mania. Act quickly if you feel an episode of depression or mania coming on. Take extra steps to control your stress. Your health care provider can also help guide you to even out your moods. After an episode of depression or mania, be sure to take the time you need to recover. If you’ve taken time off from work, pace yourself as you return. This is a time when working part-time may be the best option.

Maintain concentration. See if it is possible to try any of these ideas:

  • Reduce distractions in your work area.
  • Use white noise or environmental sound machines.
  • Increase natural lighting or work with full-spectrum lighting.

Stay organized. Many people -- not just those with bipolar disorder -- use tips like these to stay more organized:

  • Make daily to-do checklists and check items off as they are completed.
  • Use electronic organizers.
  • Divide large assignments into smaller tasks. If possible, focus on one project at a time.
  • Ask about having written job task instructions.
  • Use a watch with an hourly alarm to remind you about specific tasks.

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