The Disabling Symptoms of Bipolar disorder
Bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive disorder, is a brain disorder that results in extreme changes in activity levels, mood and energy. As a result of these changes, a person’s ability to function in everyday tasks is substantially effected. A person with bipolar disorder will experience moods that range from periods of extreme ‘highs’ when they feel very energized (known as manic episodes) to extreme ‘lows’ characterized by feelings of sadness and hopelessness (known as depressive episodes). Less extreme manic periods are experienced by some sufferers of this condition and these are called hypomanic episodes.
As defined by the National Institute of Mental Health, there are four types of bipolar disorder, each of which are characterized by distinct fluctuations in energy, mood and activity levels).
- Bipolar I Disorder – where manic episodes last a minimum of 7 days or the person experiences manic symptoms so severe that immediate hospital care is needed. Depressive periods lasting at least 2 weeks also usually occurs.
- Bipolar II Disorder – where there are alternating depressive and hypomanic episodes, but without the full-blown manic episodes typical in Bipolar I Disorder.
- Cyclothymic Disorder – where the person experiences numerous periods of hypomanic symptoms and numerous depressive periods that last at least 2 years. With this disorder, the symptoms do meet the diagnosis of a hypomanic or depressive episode.
- Other Bipolar and Related Disorders – where there are symptoms that do not conform with the three previous categories.
Bipolar Disorder Symptoms
The ‘mood episodes’ experienced by people with bipolar disorder involve extreme changes in their emotions, activity levels, energy, sleep patterns, that are substantially different from the person’s normal emotions and behaviours.
The following symptoms are typically associated with a manic episode.
- Feeling “jumpy” or “wired”
- Feeling elated
- High energy and activity level
- Difficulty sleeping
- Speak quickly; jump from topic to topic
- Easily irritated and/or agitated
- Risk taking behaviour, such as making large purchases or having reckless sex
The following symptoms are typically associated with a depressive episode.
- Very low energy and activity level
- Feeling “down”, empty, very sad, hopeless
- Sleep disturbances – sleeping too much or not enough
- Difficulty concentrating
- Not able to enjoy anything
- Eating not enough or too much
- Thoughts of suicide or death
As well as impacting relationships and the ability to function in day-to-day activities, bipolar disorder can significantly effect a person’s productivity and ability to function in a work environment. During manic periods, a person may take inappropriate risks and have difficulty interacting with clients and co-workers, but the ability to work is typically most effected during a depressive episode. When people are experiencing a depressive episode, their lack of energy, inability to concentrate, feelings of hopelessness and other symptoms associated with a depressed mood can make it difficult to perform both mental and physically-exerting tasks.
Persons with bipolar disorder are entitled to long-term disability (LTD) benefits when their symptoms prevent them from being able to perform the necessary parts of their job. A proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment can help many sufferers with at least some of the symptoms of bipolar disorder; however, each case is different and while they are undergoing treatment, a person many need to take time off work to recover or work in a limited capacity until they are again able to function effectively at work.
If you have made a long-term disability claim due to bipolar disorder and your claim for benefits was denied, talk to an experienced LTD lawyer at Kotak Personal Injury Law. At Kotak, we are successful in expediting LTD claims and in representing LTD claimants whose benefits were unfairly denied by their long-term disability insurance provider. Call our office today and find out how we can help.