December 18, 2012
A clear warning sign that someone is experiencing mental health issues often comes in the form of symptoms that begin to disrupt everyday life, including job performance. Some disorders tend to be more disruptive than others, but which ones? A new study from Rhode Island Hospital confirms that people diagnosed with bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder may have more difficulty hanging on to a job compared to those struggling with mental health issues — including depression.
Published in the December issue of the journal Bipolar Disorders, the study examined unemployment rates among those diagnosed with one of three mental health disorders: bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and depression. Each of these can present a number of challenges when it comes to the ability to carry out work tasks.
In their analysis of unemployment statistics among patients at the hospital, researchers found that individuals with borderline personality disorder were significantly more likely to be “persistently unemployed” compared to patients diagnosed with depression only. Bipolar disorder, however, tied borderline personality disorder when it came to job disruption and unemployment.
“Bipolar disorder incurs a very high cost on patients, the mental health care system and society as compared to many other mental illnesses, and it is ranked as one of the leading causes of disability in the world,” states lead researcher, Researcher Mark Zimmerman, M.D., the director of outpatient psychiatry at Rhode Island Hospital, in a study press release. “Bipolar disorder often leads to profound disruptions at work and social functioning, and also carries with it an increased risk of suicide.”
Is your loved showing symptoms of bipolar disorder? Also called “manic depression,” the disorder is marked by swings between the lows of depression and the “highs” of mania. Depending on the phase of the disorder being experienced, depression may be expressed as a sad, hopeless, low energy state. Mania lies at the opposite side of the mood spectrum, where the individual can experience a state of euphoria, elation, greatly increased energy (which may be a positive at work), but also intense irritation, anger, and poor emotional control.
Borderline personality disorder typically involves unusual levels of instability in mood; chaotic and unstable interpersonal relationships, self-image, identity, and behavior problems, including emotional “acting out,” and difficulty maintaining relationships and boundaries in social settings.
A previous study by Zimmerman found that more than 80 percent of patients with bipolar disorder reported missing some time from work due to psychiatric reasons in the previous five years, and more than one third missed up to two years or more from work.
The good news in all this, though, is that treatment can help. When symptoms of bipolar disorder or borderline personality disorder (or depression) are reduced and brought under control, job disruptions can be kept to a minimum — and everyday life can return to normal.
Source: Sustained unemployment in psychiatric outpatients with bipolar depression compared to major depressive disorder with comorbid borderline personality disorder