Disability Blog

What are the different types of bipolar disorder?

For those who do not live with the condition, bipolar disorder can be challenging to understand. A mental health condition that affects millions of individuals worldwide, bipolar disorder is a condition that is very disruptive and more often than not results in long-term disability and work impairment.  

It’s estimated that roughly 1% of Canadians live with bipolar disorder. Recovery from the condition is a possibility but rarely is a reality for many individuals with bipolar disorder. Living with bipolar disorder makes it extremely challenging for individuals in these situations to adjust and learn to live with the condition. 

Although the possibility of recovery is a reason for some optimism, the reality is that bipolar disorder is an extremely challenging mental disorder that is likely to be the reason for long-term disability and cause someone to be unable to stay at their job. If you have lost work because of bipolar disorder disability and have been denied disability benefits, speak with Camporese Lalande Disability Lawyers today. Our experience bipolar disorder lawyers are ready to help you move your case forward towards getting you the disability benefits you deserve!

What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that is categorized as a mood disorder, which are disabilities that affect a person’s ability to fully control their emotions and feelings. 

People with bipolar disorder will rotate between two emotional states, a sad “depressive” state of low energy and a “manic” state that is defined by an unnaturally high level of energy. The manic and depressive states of bipolar are extreme opposites in nature, and this can make it extremely challenging for even medical professionals to accurately diagnose this mental condition from the get-go. 

For the general public, it’s the symptoms of the manic state that are stereotypical of bipolar disorder

When a person with bipolar disorder is in a manic state, they will have an unnaturally high level of energy. It can be hard to communicate with someone in a manic state since they will often speak at a fast pace. People in a manic state will generally express an unnatural level of optimism and excitement, but that can also change quickly to anger or frustration. Other signs and symptoms that people with bipolar disorder show during their manic state are similar in nature:

  • restless and impulsive
  • unable to focus / easily distracted
  • demonstrate poor judgement
  • elevated libido (sex drive)
  • less appetite
  • less tired

During the manic state, people with bipolar disorder can develop extremely high levels of self-confidence as a result of the disorder, which can lead them to make extremely outlandish and ambitious plans. Substance abuse is also often seen in cases of people with bipolar disorder during their manic state. 

What goes up, must come down: the depressive state of bipolar disorder is very similar to someone dealing with depression.

A person with bipolar disorder can react very differently during a depressive episode. Many of the symptoms shown during this phase can include many different symptoms that people with depression also display:

  • experiencing sadness
  • having consistently low levels of energy
  • having feelings of hopelessness
  • losing interest in previous hobbies and interests
  • lowered libido
  • difficulty making decisions 
  • thoughts of suicide and self-harm

People who live with bipolar disorder do not all look the same

Individuals can experience bipolar dipolar in very different ways. Generally speaking, patients can be diagnosed with bipolar disorder under one of three categories:

  • Bipolar I disorder: Any individual who has experienced a manic episode is diagnosed as having bipolar I disorder. Manic episodes can last between a couple of weeks to several months, lasting three to six months on average. Individuals with bipolar I disorder will exit their manic state and experience a depressive state. They may also experience a period of calm, or well, between manic and depressive states. Bipolar I disorder is considered the most serious form of bipolar disorder and usually results in long-term or permanent disability. 
  • Bipolar II disorder: People with bipolar disorder who do not have a definitely manic episode do not meet the criteria for bipolar I disorder. They may instead have a slightly muted version of a manic episode, called a hypomanic episode. People who have at least one hypomanic episode and at least one major depressive episode are categorized under bipolar II disorder. With a great deal of assistance and adjustment, it may be possible for individuals with bipolar II disorder to return to some form of a normal routine. 
  • Cyclothymic disorder: People who demonstrate symptoms of bipolar disorder but have not at least one major depressive episode or one manic episode fall under the category of having cyclothymic disorder. Considered a more minor form of bipolar disorder, this disorder is sometimes described as living with significant “mood swings”. Although the extent of their symptoms is not as severe as those in the cases of bipolar I and II disorders, people with cyclothymic disorder can face difficulties at the workplace and maintaining interpersonal relationships. 

It can be common for individuals with bipolar disorder to be unable to continue working at their job

People with bipolar disorder can lose the ability to work as a result of the symptoms they experience, whether it is as a result of how the symptoms directly interfere with their work or as a result of how their symptoms make them unsuitable to continue working in their previous place of employment.

The stigma faced by the bipolar population is a real obstacle to finding stable employment and accommodations.

Studies show that individuals with bipolar disorder find it challenging to find and keep a job and living accommodations that are suitable for people with bipolar disorder. It’s estimated that roughly 60% of people with bipolar disorder are unemployed, a statistic that includes college graduates. 

People living with bipolar disorder have greater needs than someone without bipolar disorder. Allowances need to be made for times when they may be unable to complete work, whether as a result of their manic or depressive states or to make time for individuals with bipolar disorder to follow their prescribed routine of medical and psychiatric consultations. 

Adjusting to living with this disability needs a great deal of financial and emotional support and empathy from a committed support network.

Due to the incredible amount of misinformation about bipolar disorder, people with bipolar disorder are often met with heightened suspicion and wariness when trying to win support from family and friends. Even the closest people in their lives can be reluctant to support someone knowing how violent a manic episode can be, or how impossible it can be to support someone during a depressive episode. People with bipolar disorder can often find themselves dealing with their disability alone and without a strong support system to rely on, many are without the resources they need to maintain a healthy cycle of life and work.

Even if it’s a result of their disability, companies will often not permit individuals who use drugs and other substances to continue working.

Drug use in Canada is not uncommon; over 20% of the population is reported to have a substance use disorder or addiction. Many people with bipolar disorder will start to use drugs during their manic state as an outlet for their boundless energy. Unfortunately, this can often turn into an addiction that they’re unable to stop, even when at the workplace, an action which many companies are likely to regard as grounds for dismissal from work. 

Absenteeism and presenteeism during both the manic and depressive states mean that productivity suffers

The two states of bipolar disorder should be considered on a range or scale; there will be days when an individual with bipolar disorder will be able to contribute productively to the work environment. However, the chances are equally as great that the individual will be uncontrolled or uncommitted, depending on which state they happen to be in. Companies have the duty to accommodate, but for a chronic disability like bipolar disorder, it’s only a matter of time before the company decides that 

Do I qualify for disability benefits if I have bipolar disorder in Canada?

If you have bipolar disorder, you may qualify for long-term disability benefits. You may be asked to demonstrate that you have experienced manic and depressive episodes and show symptoms that are consistent with bipolar disorder. Depending on your occupation, demonstrating how the various symptoms of bipolar disorder have made it impossible for you to continue your work may make you eligible for long-term disability benefits. 

Take steps to strengthen your case for disability benefits

  • Keep careful records of evidence that helps prove your bipolar disorder: this can include phone calls and emails during a manic or depressive episode or documentation from your company that speaks to behaviour that is demonstrative of bipolar disorder.
  • Have clear, dated medical documentation from your family physician and psychiatrist: provide a clear indication of what recommendations were made and written evidence that you have followed those recommendations. 
  • Show what current steps you are taking to manage your condition: ask your current psychiatrist to provide documentation to show that you are currently under the care of a mental health professional, and include documentation about any medication that you have been prescribed for your disability. 

Have you been denied disability benefits for bipolar disorder?

There is a significant percentage of the Canadian population that deals with mental health disabilities as part of their everyday life, and among those, bipolar disorder is one of the most intrusive disorders. We understand that trying to figure out how to get by day-to-day while dealing with this disability is hard enough without having to worry about holding down a job. 

If you’ve been denied long-term disability benefits, speak to our bipolar disorder disability lawyers. Camporese Lalande Disability Lawyers represent clients with bipolar disorder who have been denied their long-term disability benefits. If you have any questions, contact us today for a free consultation.


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