Friday, September 16, 2005

Disclosing Bipolar Disorder -

Should I tell the boss?


"NEW YORK - Your mood swings from overly happy and excited to overly irritable and angry. The highs may last from several days to a month or more, but the lows often last longer and can be harrowingly deep. That's life with bipolar disorder, a psychiatric condition that some say affects about one of every 25 Americans.

See seven tips for disclosing a bipolar disorder to your employer. "The stigma is real," says David J. Miklowitz, a professor of psychology at the University of Colorado-Boulder and author of The Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide: What You and Your Family Need To Know. "It can be as subtle as fellow workers attributing justifiable reactions to situations to your illness, or as blatant as not getting a job or a promotion."

Those with a bipolar disorder face a basic decision: Tell the boss about the condition or remain silent.

Miklowitz, who earned a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of California at Los Angeles, says those with a bipolar disorder usually adopt one of four approaches:

-- Tell everyone about the condition, including the boss and co-workers.

-- Tell one or more trusted co-workers who don't hold positions of authority.

-- Don't tell anyone, but admit to having a bipolar disorder on any work-sponsored health insurance claims, opening the possibility that the employer may find out.

-- Don't tell anyone at work, and don't use your employer-provided health insurance to cover treatment costs."