According to a recent survey conducted by the national mental health charity, Bipolar UK, nearly two-fifths (39%) of people living with bipolar in the UK reported money worries being a factor in triggering a relapse.
A relapse would result in a return of symptoms, such as depression or hypomania, following a period of wellness.
According to Bipolar UK, the only national charity dedicated to empowering individuals and families affected by bipolar, a recent survey found just under half of the respondents had some form of debt and one in five reported “out of control” debt.
Speaking about the impact the cost-of-living crisis is having on people living with bipolar, the CEO of Bipolar UK, Simon Kitchen, said: “There are over a million people living with bipolar in the UK. Money worries can both be caused by, and compound, bipolar. Overspending during a hypomanic or manic episode is a common symptom and people with bipolar tell us they often buy things they don’t need and later regret.
“The ongoing stress of accumulated debt may also make another episode more likely.
“We have a partnership with PayPlan which offer free debt advice to create a bespoke link specifically for people living with bipolar so they can access support to manage any debts, reduce the burden of financial worry and cope with the rising cost of living.”
People with bipolar are likely to earn substantially less each year than average – the most common level of income reported in the same “economic impact of bipolar” survey was between £10,000 and £20,000 per year compared to the average income in the UK in 2022 of £33,000.
With one-quarter of the charity’s survey respondents with bipolar listing “welfare benefits” as their main source of income, despite an above-average proportion of them having been to college or university, it is clear that access to appropriate support is crucial.
Bipolar UK provides free resources for those living with the condition, including a call-back and email Peer Support Line, in-person Peer Support Groups across the country and an eCommunity as well as tips for people with bipolar to stay well during the current cost-of-living crisis.
Simon added: “As a charity, we not only want to provide people living with the condition with the resources they need to learn how to self-manage their symptoms, but we also want to raise awareness about the condition.
“There are approximately half a million people currently living with undiagnosed bipolar and with diagnosis time still taking on average 9.5 years, we want to equip people with the right tools and support so they can get a diagnosis and live well – and this includes helping them to manage any financial worries.
“Not everyone experiences bipolar in the same way. It is a very complex condition where people experience a range of emotions that are much wider than those of the general population.
“In a recent survey, 50% of people with a diagnosis of bipolar told us they had relapsed at least once. Avoiding triggers, as well as managing any symptoms quickly, is a key part of the self-management of bipolar. Stress can be a trigger which is why getting on top of finances and minimising money worries is so important. We want people to know they aren’t alone in all areas of managing the condition, including financial planning and our resources can help you do this.
“It is worth mentioning though that there is no shame in relapsing. It isn’t a sign of failure. You can be doing everything right and following the right treatment pathway and still relapse. This is especially relevant when living costs are so high and pressure on individuals is at an all-time high.”