For people living with bipolar affective disorder, the current pandemic can present many difficulties.
For peop­le living with bipo­lar affec­ti­ve dis­or­der, the cur­rent pan­de­mic can pre­sent many difficulties.

Bipo­lar affec­ti­ve dis­or­der is a men­tal ill­ness which pre­do­mi­nant­ly affects your mood and emo­ti­ons. Nad­ja Steh­lin, depu­ty chair­per­son and repre­sen­ta­ti­ve of affec­ted peop­le for the Deut­sche Gesell­schaft für Bipo­la­re Stö­run­gen (DGBS), exp­lains that: „Bipo­lar refers to the two poles, depres­si­on and mania, bet­ween which the affec­ted per­son […] alter­na­tes, while expe­ri­en­cing various symptoms“.

The­se sym­ptoms are also dif­fe­rent for each per­son: some­ti­mes „the mania is less extre­me, mani­fes­ting as what is cal­led ‚hypo­ma­nia‘ “, or one might expe­ri­ence „less seve­re depres­si­ve episodes“.

It is esti­ma­ted that bet­ween 1.5 and 3 % of the Ger­man popu­la­ti­on are affec­ted by this ill­ness. It can be cau­sed, among other things, by gene­tic pre­dis­po­si­ti­on and/or neu­ro­bio­lo­gi­cal fac­tors com­bi­ned with psy­cho­so­cial expe­ri­en­ces of stress.

Isolation from Social Contacts

In any case, the pan­de­mic and the restric­tions asso­cia­ted with it can have nega­ti­ve effects on peop­le with bipo­lar dis­or­der. In par­ti­cu­lar, the iso­la­ti­on cau­sed by the need to redu­ce social con­ta­cts is very dif­fi­cult, accord­ing to Stehlin.

Even befo­re the coro­na pan­de­mic, peop­le with bipo­lar affec­ti­ve dis­or­der were affec­ted by iso­la­ti­on, for examp­le, „through the some­ti­mes seve­re natu­re of their ill­ness“, they might alrea­dy only have very „few social contacts“.

Addi­tio­nal­ly, „strong pre­ju­di­ces […] con­cer­ning peop­le with bipo­lar affec­ti­ve dis­or­der“ can lead to affec­ted peop­le „iso­la­ting them­sel­ves social­ly and being unab­le to deal with their pro­blems open­ly“. As a result, addi­tio­nal restric­tions like social distancing can signi­fi­cant­ly worsen this situation.

On the other hand, it is also pos­si­ble that more time spent at home with rela­ti­ves can „lead to more conflict“.

Steh­lin fears that the­se dif­fi­cul­ties could have dra­ma­tic con­se­quen­ces, par­ti­cu­lar­ly if the­ra­pists are dif­fi­cult to con­ta­ct. What is espe­cial­ly pro­ble­ma­tic, is the situa­ti­on of affec­ted peop­le who expe­ri­ence nega­ti­ve fee­lings and thoughts, but are unab­le to speak direct­ly to any­bo­dy else about them.

No Exceptions to Lockdown Rules for People with Depression

Accord­ing to the cur­rent juris­dic­tion of the Hig­her Admi­nis­tra­ti­ve Court of North Rhi­ne-West­pha­lia, depres­si­on does not qua­li­fy as a rea­son not to fol­low social distancing mea­su­res cur­r­ent­ly in place during the pandemic.

Further Information on Bipolar Disorder

With the right sup­port, inclu­ding for examp­le the­ra­py or medi­ca­ti­on, peop­le suf­fe­ring from bipo­lar affec­ti­ve dis­or­der can still lead a full life.

For more infor­ma­ti­on on bipo­lar dis­or­der plea­se visit the fol­lowing websites:

„In the depth of win­ter, I final­ly lear­ned that wit­hin me the­re lay an invin­ci­ble sum­mer.“ – Albert Camus

This sub­ject (bipo­lar dis­or­der as well as depres­si­on) was also picked up by other media, and affec­ted peop­le spo­ke about their expe­ri­en­ces with the ill­ness (during the pandemic):

Tips and advice on how to mana­ge depres­si­on during the pan­de­mic can be found on the web­site of the Ger­man Foun­da­ti­on for Depres­si­on Reli­ef (Stif­tung Deut­sche Depressionshilfe):