Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a treatable illness and can affect a person’s ability to experience a normal range of mood. It is marked by extreme changes in mood, thought, energy and behaviour.



An individual’s traits depend on the severity of their condition. It is important to emphasise in most cases, the individual will be fine for most of the time. Individuals may lose their inhibitions, for example, resulting in reckless spending or hyperactivity.

Other traits include:

  • Lack of motivation
  • Mood swings
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Low self-esteem.

Potential impact on daily life and employment

  • Could be taking daily medication which can have side effects including tiredness and low attention span
  • Lack of financial planning
  • May find it difficult to find motivation
  • May have difficulty with relationships – both personal and professional
  • Other people may have difficulty in understanding and knowing how to react to mood swings
  • May need support to sustain employment due to fluctuating nature of condition.


Support in the workplace

  • Appoint a workplace buddy or mentor to provide personal support
  • Allow reasonable time off for services to support the condition (eg. therapy, counselling, medical interventions)
  • Allow flexible working practices, such as working from home, annualised hours and unpaid time off
  • Consider asking a trusted person to act as an emergency contact should a time of crisis emerge
  • Talk to the individual about signals to enable early intervention, so that support can be in place at the early stages, or coping strategies can be triggered
  • Ask about medication and possible side effects that may have a workplace implication
  • Positive and regular affirmations boost self-esteem and personal confidence. Avoid phrases such as “pull yourself together”, “you’ll get over it”, “it’s not as bad as you think”
  • Identify workplace activities that may trigger particular levels of stress or anxiety, and consider temporary or permanent adjustments.
  • Interested in learning more about jobs that may suit people with bipolar disorder?


At least one in every 100 people will experience bipolar disorder at some time during their lives. 50% of people who develop bipolar disorder will do so by the time they are in their early to mid 20s.

Source; Headspace - National Youth Mental Health.

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