Because of the mood swings associated with bipolar disorder, individuals with the condition can have trouble with normal daily tasks and routines. People with bipolar disorder can experience physical, social, and interpersonal complications.

Coexisting Conditions

Many illnesses tend to coexist with bipolar disorder and can make its diagnosis or treatment difficult.  These conditions include:

  • anorexia
  • bulimia
  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • anxiety disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social phobia, and generalized anxiety disorder

Increased Risk for Conditions

People with bipolar disorder are also at higher risk for the following diseases or conditions:

  • migraine headaches
  • hay fever
  • psoriasis
  • eczema
  • hypothyroidism
  • asthma
  • diabetes
  • heart disease
  • obesity
  • epilepsy

Social or Interpersonal Complications

The following problems are typically associated with or a result of bipolar disorder:

  • truancy
  • difficulty or failure performing in school or at work
  • relationship troubles
  • frequent run-ins with the law
  • financial difficulties

Abuse of alcohol and other substances is also common and is associated with an increase in the number of hospitalizations, a worsening of the course of bipolar disorder, and lower treatment success. 

Although symptoms dissipate significantly between episodes, as many as 60 percent of people with bipolar disorder I do not return to a fully functional level and experience interpersonal, school, or work difficulties even when they are not manic or depressed. The majority of people with bipolar disorder II return to a fully functional level between episodes.