Being Bipolar And The Law

Bipolar disorder is a psychiatric condition what has become rather well known in recent years. Also referred to as manic-depression, bipolar disorder is marked by extreme highs, manic phases, and periods of extreme depression. Your condition also has legal ramifications that you need to be aware of.

Legal Trouble

Undiagnosed or improperly treated bipolar disorder can lead you to trouble with the law. Research shows that approximately one million people with serious mental illness are now incarcerated in the United State. When your condition is not controlled, you will be more likely to break the law, often through domestic disputes or other violent acts. If you are arrested, your mental condition may be used as a defense. In that case, treatment instead of jail would be ordered. 


Many people with bipolar disorder can function well in society. They hold down jobs and raise families. In some more severe instances, your mental issues may prevent you from supporting yourself. In those cases, you need to consider filing for Social Security disability. Bipolar disability is one of the mental illnesses that may qualify for disability payments. However, it may be more difficult to be approved for a mental issue rather than a physical one since SS employees do not have much training in the area. A good disability lawyer can help guide you through the process. You will have to gather a great deal of medical evidence supporting your claim, and the paperwork can be daunting. 

Employment Protections

If you are able to work, you should know that the law protects your from discrimination. The Americans with Disabilities Act covers mental health problems. You employer is required to make "reasonable accommodation" for your condition once they know about it. Remember, though, no employer can ask you about your mental or physical health issues when they are interviewing you. Of course, you still have to effectively perform your job. You cannot be fired for simply having a mental illness, however. You are protected from those employers who simply fear mental conditions.

If you have bipolar disorder, your daily life can often be difficult. Fortunately, the condition is often well controlled by medication and therapy. You should understand that the law offers you some protections from the effects of your illness. Whenever you come up against a legal issue, consult with a lawyer to make certain that your rights are protected. Your disability doesn't mean that you can't live a full and satisfying life. Contact disability attorneys for more information.