Bipolar Disorder

Signs and Symptoms

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition where the individual experiences intense fluctuations in their mood and energy.

It is characterised by oscillating manic (or hypo-manic) and depressive episodes. The severity and duration of these episodes depends on the individual and their circumstances. These changes in mood affect the thoughts and behaviours of the person and consequently their capacity in the workplace.

Depressive episodes are characterised by extremely low moods, feelings of hopelessness, sadness and a lack of interest or pleasure in life. This can lead to the individual struggling to concentrate, partake in
their regular activities and experiencing suicidal thoughts.

Manic episodes are characterised by extremely high moods and activity. The individual can experience intense emotion such as anger or happiness.
The intensity of these moods can lead to agitation, racing thoughts, high levels of energy, little need for sleep and rapid speech.

Bipolar Disorder affects 2.9% of Australians or over 565,00 people

Australian Bureau of Statistics


Affect on Daily Life at Work

Depressive episodes can cause:

» Withdrawal from social interactions or relationships

» Low moods that neccessitate sick days be used
» Changes in sleep patterns creating fatigue, irritability and lack of motivation.
» Sensitivity to feedback or low confidence in their work
» Difficulty concentrating, managing or finishing tasks

Manic episodes can cause:

» Impulsive and emotionally intense behaviour, potentially leading to conflict with colleagues or customers
» Energy or motivation for new ideas and projects, resulting in them taking on more work than they can achieve.

Workplace Support

» Maintain supportive communication, understand their illness, early signs of episodes and side effects of medication.
» Provide environments that facilitate coping strategies
» Set achievable, clear goals and monitor their progress
» Gain emergency contact details and understand when these should be used
» Allow the individual to attend services such as counselling

» Regular positive affirmation

» Manic episodes may cause increased energy and productivity.

» Be sure not to assign more work than you usually would during these episodes.

For additional resources and support, visit Beyond Blue

Despite having completed certificates in First Aid, attaining his RSA, RCG and completing work experiences in numerous businesses, Liam struggled to find employment.
Due to Liam’s bi-polar and personality disorders, he experiences fluctuations in his mental health, which can affect his ability to perform consistently in the workplace.

With Castle’s support, he was able to commence work experience at local discount store, Maxi Save. With on the job support from his case manager and open communication with his supervisor, he thrived in his placement and was offered a part-time position at the store.