How does work work for people with bipolar affective disorder?

Occup Ther Int. 2001;8(3):210-225. doi: 10.1002/oti.147.


Despite modern treatments, bipolar disorder remains a chronic, relapsing disorder that leads to long-term psychosocial disability. A review of the literature suggests that while employment rates amongst individuals with bipolar disorder may improve over time, and are relatively better compared to some other chronic mental disorders, employment prospects do not match the high scholastic achievements seen amongst this group of people before the onset of their illness. For those with bipolar disorder, clinical recovery does not necessarily mean functional recovery, and the usual early age of onset may further reduce an individual's preparedness for employment. Two brief vignettes are used to discuss how occupational therapists can help their clients maintain their sense of hope in vocational recovery, gain better self-awareness and work with clients at various stages of recovery rather than waiting for full functional recovery. Further research is required to help identify specific factors that contribute to the success of employment integration amongst people with bipolar disorder.