The Impact of Bipolar Disorder

Occupational Therapy Student Blog Post

December 8, 2020

Valmir Camaj & Michael Lamorgese, Dominican College of Blauvelt

Afya is a non-traditional work environment that provides opportunities for individuals who have a medical diagnosis, such as Bipolar disorder. Individuals with bipolar disorder may have a variety of symptoms including episodes of mania and depression. Mania is when an individual has a period of irritable mood. A depressive episode is a period of low mood. The second type of bipolar disorder is identified by only a low depressive mood.

Daily routines are often impacted by Bipolar disorder due to a lack of motivation from symptoms of anhedonia, the inability to feel pleasure, and avolition, lack of initiation.

An individual at Afya with Bipolar disorder may have difficulty arriving on time or completing work duties in a timely manner. During depressive episodes, individuals may be less productive as their attention, concentration, and focus are impacted. During manic episodes an individual may be impulsive, make errors within their work environment, not meet appropriate social demands, and not complete their projects at work.

These symptoms may impact an individual at Afya when searching a table for items, identifying expiration dates, or concentrating on counting supplies.

Bipolar disorder also affects an individual’s social engagement, an area of occupation which is essential for being successful within the workplace. Social participation at Afya is essential because there are always situations that require successful social interactions such as educating new volunteers, asking employees about materials, and engaging in communication-based activities.

At Afya, Occupational Therapists identify specific barriers for individuals demonstrating symptoms of Bipolar disorder such as fatigue, distractibility, and disorganized thoughts. Following identification, OTs implement adaptations within the person’s work environment in order to promote optimal functioning within their role as a volunteer and community member. This may include job accommodations such as frequent reminders of tasks, short breaks, and a quieter less distracting work environment.

OTs implement strategies that can be used in and out of the workplace, such as deep breathing, mindfulness meditation, and self-soothing techniques. OTs strive to advocate for the client to identify an optimal fit of function so that they may have a productive work routine!

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