Bipolar Disorder’s Impact on Employers

In October, PBGH held a webinar with AbbVie, entitled “Understanding the Burden of Major Depressive Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, and Schizophrenia.” We were joined by Janetta Bekman and Tim Wardell of AbbVie.

As a takeaway, AbbVie provided a handout regarding bipolar disorder (BPD). This is a chronic mood disorder characterized by episodes of mania/hypomania and depression, with or without mixed features. A mixed feature refers to the presence of high and low symptoms occurring at the same time, or as part of a single episode. Many times, BPD can be misdiagnosed as depression or even schizophrenia, leading to more serious conditions. It is important to be aware of the differences.

Alarming Facts for Employers on Bipolar Disorder:

  • It’s the leading cause of disability
  • Has a high rate of recurrence
  • Increases the risk of suicide – individuals with BPD are 17 times more likely to die by suicide
  • The average age of onset is 20 years old, peaking at the most productive working years of 25-39 years of age
  • 50% of BPD patients work below their qualifications, creating absenteeism and presenteeism
  • Individuals may not seek treatment due to stigma, coverage, or financial reasons

Read more on bipolar disorder in the PDF below, including symptoms and treatments.


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