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Tips for Managing Bipolar Disorder at Work


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

Or, perhaps you need to make changes at your present job or are returning to work after being away. Think about what you really need at work:

  • Can you work better alone than with a large group?
  • Do you need clear direction from others, rather than being self-directed?
  • Do you need more breaks?
  • What time of day are you most productive?
  • Do you need a different kind of job than you have currently or have had in the past?

Asking questions like these may help you get clear about producing the best work environment for you. As you probably know, many people with bipolar disorder struggle with impulsivity. So whatever you do, take your time to make big job changes. Talk them over with family, health care providers, and your therapist.

Also, be aware of the importance of regular and predictable sleep times for managing bipolar disorder, and if your job requires shift work, speak with your boss or supervisor about making any accommodations in your schedule that may be necessary for properly managing your condition



How the Law Protects Those With Bipolar Disorder at Work

If you think you are being treated unfairly at work due to your bipolar disorder, know that you can seek help. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects people from discrimination, whether their disability is physical or mental. However, the law does not contain a list of medical conditions that make up disabilities. Instead, it has a general definition of disability that each person must meet. Therefore, you may or may not have a disability under the ADA. Disability is defined as impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a past record of these limitations, or being regarded as having such an impairment.

These laws are complex. Before taking any legal action, it is important to get professional advice. You can call the U.S. Department of Justice ADA Information Line at 1-800-514-0301 or go to


If You Need to Take Time Off Work Due to Bipolar Disorder

If you need time off because of your bipolar disorder, in most cases, you have more than one option besides vacation and sick leave. See if your employer offers short- or long-term disability insurance, which allows you to receive a certain percentage of your salary. Your company’s Human Resources department can help.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows you to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a year. For more information, call 1-866-487-9243 or visit the U.S. Department of Labor web site.

You can apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits if you can’t work due to a mental or physical disability. Call 1-800-772-1213 or visit the Social Security web site.


WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on September 07, 2014
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