In this blog post, we will understand what the worst jobs for people with bipolar disorder are. Moreover, we will see what alternative careers are available that suit them and their needs better. We will also touch upon red flags that indicate a job is unideal for people with bipolar disorder, and strategies to succeed in their career.
Bipolar disorder, sometimes known as bipolar depression, is a mental condition, which causes tremendous mood shifts. They can oscillate from very low moods (depression) to slightly high (hypomania) and very high moods (mania). Such shifts, along with other symptoms, make it challenging for people with the disorder to function.
Worst Jobs for People with Bipolar Disorder
Good introspection, ideally with the help of a mental health professional, could help people with bipolar disorder identify career paths that do and do not suit them. Every person with the condition has different needs and abilities and would have to choose a job keeping that in mind.
Following is a list of worst jobs for people with bipolar disorder:
- Fire Fighter
- Military and Police Forces
- Stock Market Trader
- Startup Employee
This job entails specific physical rigours that come with shift work, such as being on call, being highly responsive within a moment’s notice, and several occupational hazards. Moreover, there are also emotional challenges, including the death of coworkers, civilians, and animals due to fires or smoke inhalation, and even loss of property.
Military and Police Forces
Any profession that typically entails carrying a gun is deemed unsafe for individuals with bipolar disorder. Moreover, this job comes with high levels of stress, which is usually the trigger for mood episodes and emotional instability.
Surgeons are also subject to long hours of high stress, toward which many individuals with bipolar disorder may be drawn. However, they are advised against taking this job.
Stock Market Trader
Being in the stock market industry can invoke high levels of stress. It comes with a sense of unpredictability still adding to the pressure.
Startups are the epitome of job instability and can contribute to bouts of mood imbalance, worsening the situation for people with bipolar disorder. Startup employees, although inspiring, are usually considered disposable.
Actors typically have a high unemployment rate, and finding a trustworthy source of employment is challenging. There is a lot of uncertainty that surrounds this industry, as TV shows may get cancelled and it is not uncommon for the production of movies to be placed on hold. Such factors make this job an unreliable option for people with bipolar disorder.
Alternative Job Options for Individuals with Bipolar Disorder
Individuals with bipolar disorder are advised to look for jobs that would bring a certain amount of stability, routine, and structure into their lives. Therefore, jobs involving repetitive work and consistency are good options.
Moreover, they tend to be creative, especially when they are experiencing manic or hypomanic symptoms. They are also known to feel things more intensely, driving them toward creativity. Therefore, jobs that cater to their creative side can also be recommended but with caution as it does not provide consistency.
A list of jobs that people with bipolar disorder may want to explore is as follows:
This job combines creativity and flexibility, allowing the individual to produce creative output while enabling them to set their schedule.
Accounting professionals have jobs that are relatively consistent. Settling accounts involve repetitive work, and balance sheets need to be up-to-date continuously. Moreover, their work environment is peaceful, allowing them to concentrate better.
Masseuse or Masseur
Massage therapists work toward helping people rejuvenate and relax, thereby leading a stress-free job. Their role is rather consistent and clearly defined. There are flexible working hours, and they can work in various settings (e.g., spa, home, offices).
Web developers, working toward practical website changes, are exempt from stressful factors like deadlines as their job is consistent, stable, and peaceful. A single point of consideration is to not allow their urge for perfectionism to act as a stressor while resolving technical issues.
Being a statistician has benefits, such as high pay, less stress, and a fast-growing field. They typically work in environments with no triggering stimuli, flexibility in terms of choosing employers (e.g., government agencies, corporations), and no pressure to show results immediately.
A medical coder maintains records by keeping them accurate and updated. As they do not have to serve people with illnesses directly, it is relatively stress-free. The office environment is quiet, and the job entails repetition, making it a good fit for people with bipolar disorder.
Hearing Aid Specialist
This job provides excellent rewards, routine, and is relatively low on the pressure as it involves performing hearing tests and measurements. This consistency and structure make the job an appealing option for individuals with bipolar disorder.
There are various careers wherein individuals with bipolar disorder can grow professionally. The jobs mentioned above are just a small place to start. Individuals must learn enough about their prospective roles, such as work environment, responsibilities and related pressures. It is best to find a job that tends to their needs and abilities.
Red Flags that Indicate the Job is Harmful to People with Bipolar Disorder
Despite finding a stable and routine-oriented job, people with bipolar disorder may get stuck in a toxic working environment.
Here is a list of signs to look for that may show that your workplace is bad for the condition:
Lack of Communication
Poor communication could easily make people with bipolar disorder start spiralling, feel paranoid, making them doubt themselves. Such lack of communication could worsen their condition and may lead to absence from work.
Unempathetic Supervisor and Colleagues
If the boss is demanding and selfish, not paying heed to the individual with the mental illness, it may be overwhelming, making the work more challenging. Similarly, colleagues who do not provide the space to open up or joke about the individual’s bipolar disorder could make them struggle in silence, which is highly toxic.
Such lack of awareness regarding mental health issues evokes anxiety in them, and this is worse if they have social anxiety disorder as well.
The disorder in itself can be exhausting for the individual to manage. They need time to recuperate or be alone, and cannot bring their best foot forward all the time. A boss who is rigid about the same work hours every day and monitors the duties would not be suitable for them.
Foster a Sense of Constant Second-Guessing
An employer who positively reinforces employees solely based on the profits they bring to the company and not their behaviours would be toxic. If people with bipolar disorder work earnestly yet do not achieve targets similar to their colleagues can feel a tremendous amount of anxiety.
High Employee Turnover
The ideal work environment for people with bipolar disorder is one that provides consistency. Frequent changes can negatively impact them. Therefore, if in a workplace many people are choosing to leave, it would be toxic for them.
Strategies to a Successful Career for People with Bipolar Disorder
Most times, individuals with bipolar disorder find it challenging to thrive in a job. This problem stems from mood fluctuations when the condition is left untreated, making it challenging to finish duties and projects assigned. When given group tasks, their interpersonal communication also takes a blow.
There are several recommended ways to take control of their health while on the job:
Sticking to Their Treatment Plan
It is imperative to seek a mental health professional to receive timely and appropriate treatment. Apart from medication designed explicitly for bipolar disorder, there are psychological therapeutic approaches such as Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy (IPSRT). In this therapy, they learn to bring structure to their lives by developing daily routines.
As mentioned above, structure helps make symptoms more manageable. Jobs come with stress for everybody, but can be highly triggering of manic symptoms. Having a structured work environment can prevent stressors. Some strategies include being consistent with regards to projects, meeting deadlines, teammates, job profile, and hours are.
It is easier to cope when they schedule their work in a way that they can avoid foreseeable stressors. For instance, some individuals with bipolar disorder save up their sick leaves to take time to rest and recuperate before stress triggers their symptoms. Some may benefit from flexible work hours, like working from home or working before everybody else arrives.
Have a Conversation with the Boss
If the disorder is on the severe end of the bipolar spectrum, talking to their boss about it could help. The supervisor may then make the necessary accommodations and adjustments to boost productivity. Bipolar disorder is deemed a legally protected disability by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, encouraging employers to be supportive.
In this blog post, we understood what the worst jobs for people with bipolar disorder are. We also read what alternative, more well-suited options are out there, along with red flags indicative of the position being bad for their mental illness, and what strategies they can employ for a successful career.
People with bipolar disorder possess unique talents and can be highly creative, and various job opportunities can allow these individuals to optimise their potential. Those jobs, even if unconventional but offer a platform to exhibit such creativity and skill and are of low stress, may be best suited.
Do you have any experiences yourself or of people you know who have this mental condition? How do you or they cope? Share with us in the comment section below.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Worst Jobs for People with Bipolar Disorder
What is the ideal job for people with bipolar disorder?
Less stressful jobs are ideal for people with this mental disorder. These include:
- Accountant or Bookkeeper
- Web Developer
- Masseuse or Masseur
- Hearing Aid Specialist
- Medical Coder
What should a person with bipolar disorder not do?
There is nothing that a person with bipolar disorder should not do. However, there are things other people should be mindful of while speaking to people with the psychological condition, including:
- Telling them that they sound a bit down;
- Making the disorder their identity (e.g., “You know she is bipolar”);
- Calling them “a fool,” “crazy,” “insane,” etc.;
- Telling them that they get triggered easily;
- Treating the disorder as having a quick fix and not as a severe and ongoing process (e.g., “I thought you were on medication”); and
- Marginalising the illness (e.g., “You are too smart to have this condition”).
Is it challenging for someone with bipolar disorder to work?
This condition, among other mental disorders, could make it challenging for people to get and sustain in a job, more so if their symptoms have an impact on their daily functioning.
Most people in a particular survey reported that their performance got affected by their disorder, while more than half of them said they entirely quit working outside of their home.
What form of bipolar disorder is the severest?
Bipolar I disorder is the most debilitating in the bipolar spectrum, defined by one or more manic or mixed episode as well as at least one episode meeting the criteria for major depression. Bipolar II disorder, on the other hand, is mostly depressive episodes along with infrequent hypomanic (milder than mania, but still disabling) episodes.
Can a person with bipolar disorder manage without medication?
Yes, people with bipolar disorder can live without medication, although they are typically advised against it. If the person can consistently employ healthy lifestyle habits and engage in good self-care, it may be possible. However, in most cases, medication is mandatory.
Does having bipolar disorder mean that one is “crazy?”
No, being diagnosed with bipolar disorder or any other mental illness for that matter, does not mean the person is “crazy.” The condition is debilitating, yes, albeit not any more severe than other psychological disorders. It merely means that the person has a problem that affects them and their functioning, and does not in any way imply that they are “crazy.”
What are some factors that trigger bipolar disorder?
Certain factors may increase susceptibility to developing the condition or may trigger for the first episode. These include:
- Presence of a first-degree relative (say, a parent) with the disorder
- Extreme stress, including trauma, or the death of a loved one
- Substance abuse
Does bipolar disorder get worse as you grow older?
If timely and appropriate intervention is not made, it may worsen over a while or with age. Leaving the disorder untreated may lead to episodes increasing in severity and frequency as time passes by.