Despite the fact that 1 in 5 American adults experience a mental illness every year, mental health is not something everyone feels comfortable talking about, especially not with their employers. Bipolar disorder—a disorder associated with episodes of mood wings ranging from depressive lows to manic highs—is one such condition that can be, without treatment and accommodations, particularly challenging to manage in the workplace. Moreover, the stigma associated with bipolar disorder often impedes some individuals from publicly exercising their rights under federal, state and city laws.
Many may think that bipolar disorder is rare but, in the United States alone, there are approximately 5.7 million people suffering from the disorder. In fact, it is the sixth leading cause of disability in the world. There are two types of the bipolar disorder: Bipolar I and Bipolar II. Bipolar I involves periods of severe mood episodes from mania to depression, while Bipolar II disorder is a milder form of mood elevation, involving milder episodes of hypomania that alternate with periods of severe depression.