Bipolar disorder can pose challenges in many essential dimensions of daily life. From the regulation of emotions to the maintenance of relationships, bipolar disorder can raise persistent obstacles – especially when left untreated.
Yet, the difficulties of the disorder are often most apparent in the realm of employment. People with bipolar disorder regularly report that their condition has negatively affected their careers. Moreover, individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder often withdraw from the workforce, reducing their work or ceasing to be employed altogether.
In some cases, the severity of manic or depressive symptoms makes consistent employment untenable. Some individuals with bipolar disorder qualify for disability benefits, which are appropriate given their acute and ongoing needs.
However, most people with bipolar disorder are capable of sustained and substantive employment, particularly once their symptoms are successfully managed with medication. So why do so many people with bipolar disorder remain underemployed and out of work?
One major cause is a lack of understanding or accommodations among American businesses. Studies show that employees with bipolar disorder are often stigmatized in the workplace, and treated unfairly by managers and colleagues as a result. When professionals with bipolar disorder ask for accommodations to support their success, they are frequently dismissed or excluded. Clearly, more progress is warranted in terms of awareness and advocacy.
Among individuals with bipolar disorder, another chief reason for workforce attrition is the harmful potential of professional stress. According to experts, workplace stressors can trigger painful symptoms, disrupting the equilibrium that people with bipolar disorder strive to achieve.
In some offices, looming deadlines drive collective anxiety. Other settings are full of stressful stimuli, such as booming background noise. Elsewhere, interpersonal conflict leads to ambient tension. Each of these scenarios could undermine the well-being of someone with bipolar disorder.
Accordingly, for people diagnosed with bipolar disorder, finding the right employment fit can be essential to living happily and productively. Thankfully, many careers offer an appealing mix of interesting work and little stress. In this article, we aim to help you find one.
First, we’ll describe some key criteria that people with bipolar disorder should consider when planning their careers. Then, we’ll present some specific examples of rewarding, low-stress job options for individuals with bipolar disorder.
If you’re actively seeking a career that supports your well-being, we’re here to provide some guidance and hope. Here’s what to know as you look for the right role – along with some excellent options to consider.
Managing Bipolar Disorder at Work: Key Job Considerations
While the causes of bipolar disorder are complex, stress can be a precipitating factor in the emergence and resurgence of key symptoms. Although bipolar disorder symptoms can vary enormously, stress has been shown to induce both “manic” and “depressive” feelings and behaviors.
Accordingly, even if your bipolar disorder is well-managed through therapy and medication, it can be helpful to avoid unnecessary sources of stress in your daily experience. Because work is a common cause of stress, pursuing a career with less pressure could be a key strategy for keeping your symptoms in check.
Problematic work stressors can include isolated events like losing an important client, or consistent issues such as high-stakes monthly deadlines. For many with bipolar disorder, career-related stress can become overwhelming due to constant or recurring challenges. In other instances, stressors are environmental. Loud or chaotic workplaces can steadily undermine one’s sense of calm.
Because people with bipolar disorder have such a wide array of aptitudes, preferences, and potential triggers, we can’t provide hard and fast rules for everyone with the disorder. What one individual finds intolerable, another may find completely comfortable.
However, we can suggest some general characteristics of professional opportunities that will support your continued well-being. Consider these suggestions and evaluate whether they might make sense for you.
Consistent responsibilities: Many jobs are defined by peaks and lulls, meaning pressure can vary dramatically on a daily basis. People with bipolar disorder may want to avoid such positions, opting instead for jobs that entail a stable, well-defined set of duties.
Calm environments: Some workplaces are abuzz with energy, thriving on constructive chaos. Unfortunately, these environments can be taxing to inhabit, raising employee stress levels through sensory overload. You might seek a more quiet, tranquil environment instead.
Regular, daytime hours: Sleep disruptions can be hugely problematic for people with bipolar disorder. Symptoms can flare up after a single night of insufficient rest. By the same token, people with bipolar disorder often have diagnosed sleep disorders. To manage these interacting issues, it’s probably best to look for roles with regular, daytime working hours.
Potential for breaks: If you feel your stress levels mounting, you’ll need to employ effective coping skills, such as taking a walk, calling a friend, or doing some deep breathing. You might want to look for jobs where these occasional breaks are possible, rather than positions in which it’s impossible to pause.
Supportive colleagues: Nothing raises tension like co-workers in conflict, and infighting among colleagues makes everyone’s life difficult. To avoid this source of stress, try to find an employer with a strong and supportive company culture, rather than one defined by cutthroat competition.
Thankfully, many professions meet all or most of these criteria. Below, we’ve selected six careers that exemplify great options for professionals with bipolar disorder.
Six Low-Stress Career Options for Professionals with Bipolar Disorder
1. Bookkeeper or Accounting Professional
Bookkeepers and other accounting professionals play a vital role within organizations, tracking the statistics by which success and failure are assessed. In most cases, their tasks are relatively consistent. Balance sheets are updated on an ongoing basis, and settling accounts payable and receivable entails a lot of repetition. Also, workers in these roles usually enjoy calm office environments, permitting them to stay focused on the work at hand.
Not all accounting positions are low stress, however. Some kick into high gear during tax season, for example. Before pursuing a particular opportunity, get a good sense of whether the role’s duties will fluctuate during certain periods of the month or year.
2. Massage Therapist
In a profession devoted to healing and relaxation, you can expect to stay relatively healthy and stress-free. Massage therapists perform a valuable service to their clients, and their responsibilities are consistent and clear. Aside from possible scheduling challenges, you won’t need to worry about much besides creating the best possible experience for each client.
Massage therapists work in many settings, employing their skills in spas, offices, or even their clients’ homes. They can work for themselves or as part of larger entities, seeing clients on a recurring basis or for single sessions. This flexibility is a big benefit. You can find a niche that supports your mental health needs.
3. Medical Records Technician
Health care can be a pressure-intensive industry, but maintaining medical records is a low-stress segment of the field. Keeping records accurate and up to date is an essential service, allowing physicians to treat patients successfully over time. You can aid in this effort without the stress of directly serving people who are ill.
Medical records technicians devise, implement, and maintain medical coding systems, streamlining record keeping via digital platforms. Their work is typically defined by repetitive processes and performed in a quiet office setting. Their role is quite useful for legal and insurance purposes, allowing medical professionals to focus on patient care.
4. Web Developer
Some coding positions entail significant stressors, such as looming deadlines or complex technical problems, but a lot of web developers are insulated from these pressures, performing practical website changes at a reasonable pace. If you find the right position, your career as a developer can be tranquil, consistent, and stable.
One element to consider is your penchant for perfectionism. Will you be comfortable doing the best you can to resolve technical challenges, or will you obsess over the most elegant solution possible? If your own drive for perfection could be a source of stress, you might prefer a career that involves less compromise and continual tinkering.
Statisticians are fortunate in several respects: their field is growing rapidly, their salaries are high, and they endure little stress on a daily basis. If complex calculations intrigue you, a career in statistics could be the ideal path. You’ll probably work in an office environment free of distracting stimuli, and you likely won’t face intense pressure to produce results rapidly.
Many statisticians are employed by government agencies, which often utilize their skills in designing surveys and conducting complex analysis. Corporations also value statisticians’ trade, relying on their insights to guide massive business decisions. This flexibility could be a real career advantage, empowering you to find a supportive employer in the public or private sector.
6. Hearing Aid Specialist
As technology rapidly advances, hearing aids have the power to improve a person’s quality of life instantly. With specialized training that does not necessarily require a college degree, you can facilitate this transformation in a low-pressure, highly rewarding environment.
You’ll work in a medical office setting, performing a routine of hearing tests and measurements. You can perform these duties at a consistent, methodical pace – and get paid quite well for doing so. The best reward, however, might be the gratitude of your clients for whom the world will sound great as a result of your efforts.
Support for Success: Finding a Fit to Thrive
The specific careers that we’ve described above are simply initial possibilities. Individuals with bipolar disorder can thrive in a wide array of roles. Keeping in mind the basic concerns we’ve outlined, you can find a suitable position in most fields.
In some ways, the most challenging aspect of your job search might be learning enough about a potential role to make an informed decision. When talking to prospective employers, remember that you’re entitled to ask relevant questions. Gauge the responsibilities of the role, the associated pressure, and the general working environment.
After all, it’s far better to spend time evaluating your job prospects proactively, rather than discovering significant issues once you start. You deserve a job suited to your needs and abilities, so gather key information before making any commitments.
At Joblist, we’re eager to lend a hand however we can. Our platform gathers listings from a powerful mix of sources, so you’ll never miss the perfect position. We also help you personalize your search, so you can set parameters that you’re comfortable with. Start your search to find the ideal opportunity, so your work success never comes at the expense of your well-being.