One of the lesser known effects of bipolar disorder is that it can cause money problems. In fact, bipolar disorder and its symptoms can outright destroy finances. The good news is that this isn’t a personality flaw. It’s part of the bipolar disorder, which is a medical condition, and therefore absolutely not your fault. Let’s look at how bipolar disorder and symptoms can destroy finances, because understanding what’s going on can help you formulate a plan for addressing financial problems -sometimes, before they even begin.
Bipolar Disorder and Symptoms – How They Relate to Financial Problems
It turns out that both depressive and (hypo)manic episodes can cause you to spend a lot of money. The gist of it is that (hypo)mania leads to confidence and exuberance and that depression leads to a strong desire for the lift in mood that spending can provide.
First we’ll examine why (hypo)mania can lead to over-spending, and then we’ll examine how depression can do the same.
(Hypo)Mania Can Lead to Gambling
The sense of being important, lucky, and favored by fortune – a common experience during (hypo)mania can make gambling seem like a great idea – in fact, perhaps the only logical idea. The problem is that gambling favors all people alike, and that a (hypo)manic episode doesn’t actually make it so your luck is better than others.
And the high-inducing, compulsive design of gambling makes it difficult to stop. If you’re currently convinced that you’re a genius touched by the hand of God, gambling gets out of hand.
And for these reasons, bipolar disorder and outright gambling addiction often go together.
(Hypo)Mania Can Lead to Unwise Investment Schemes
Likewise, the sense of brilliance associated with (hypo)mania can cause you to leap into a get-rich-quick scheme, to invest money in risky stocks, and even leave your job prematurely to launch an ill-thought-out plan of self-entrepreneurship. That nearly irresistible sense of over-confidence can cause you to leap boldly into the fray and commit irreversible financial decisions before you wake up from your mania.
This is not to say that investments and solo business plans are necessarily a bad idea. It’s just that ones devised during a manic episode are generally terrible ideas.
Now that we’ve touched on how mania can hurt your personal finances, let’s look at what depression can do.
Depressive Episodes Can Lead to a Lack of Energy to Do Your Job
When you’re depressed, it can be hard to get out of bed. Hard to shower. Hard to prepare food. You can imagine that summoning the energy to go to work and carry out the tasks of your job can be incredibly difficult – even impossible. I always remember a passage from Depression For Dummies that mentioned that functioning with depression is as difficult as functioning with a broken leg – except that the difficulty is invisible to others.
Some workplaces are clear sighted enough to treat depression as the health issue that it is. Others haven’t gotten there yet.
But if you miss days of work – or, worse, lose your job because of your absences or lethargy – you can take a massive hit to your financial situation. And that sucks.
Depressive Episodes Lead to Excessive Retail Therapy – And Gambling, Again
It’s also true that shopping provides a momentary hit of dopamine. We feel bursts of physiological pleasure whenever we hit the “buy now” button or check out at the register. It makes sense, then, that someone suffering from depression would seek out the pleasure of shopping.
The problem, of course, is that we might not have the energy to check our bank balance – which can lead to overdraft charges. We might spend too much money during a shopping trip and end up with worries about where our groceries and mortgage payments will come from. We might buy items that we don’t need, which in turn clutters our environment further and leads to more anxiety and despair.
And that same hit of dopamine hits when we gamble too. So, just like we might gamble when we’re manic, we might gamble when we’re depressed.
Well, at least now we have more information.
The good news is that there are methods for dealing with these episode-driven spending sprees. We’ll cover some of them tomorrow.
Here’s Your Homework
FIrst of all, leave a comment below and share this post around if you found it useful. Second, take a moment to figure out which kinds of episodes cause you to spend too much, and why they feel so good for you. Let me know what you figure out – I’d love to know, and the more we normalize and build transparency around bipolar disorder, the better our mental health community will be.