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The Top 10 Mental Health Disorders which can Interfere with Employment

By Matt Lalande in Hamilton Disability Lawyer, Long-Term Disability on August 23, 2022

The Top 10 Mental Health Disorders which can Interfere with Employment

Mental health illness is a general term that refers to a wide range of various disorders that can affect an individual’s feelings, behaviors, thoughts and perceptions. Mental health issues range from moderate to severe and can leave those afflicted struggling to cope with daily life due to their altered state of mind. They can affect people of every race, gender, age, or socioeconomic group.

There is no single cause of mental illness. Rather, it is the result of a complex interaction of genetic, psychological, and environmental factors. In some cases, mental illness can be traced to an underlying physical condition. For example, people with chronic pain or who suffer from chronic sleep deprivation are at increased risk for developing depression or anxiety disorders. Other times, a traumatic event or stressful life circumstances can trigger a mental illness. For instance, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can occur after witnessing a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, physical abuse, abuse, rape, or murder.

Mental illness also tends to run in families, suggesting that there is a genetic component to these conditions. However, it is important to note that even if someone has a family history of mental illness, this does not mean that they will necessarily develop the condition themselves. There are many other factors that come into play. Overall, it is thought that mental illnesses can be caused by a variety of factors, including biology (e.g., genetics), environment (e.g., trauma) or psychological stressors (e.g., major life transitions). While some mental health disorders are acute and resolve on their own, others are chronic and require long-term treatment.

Mental illness can have a profound impact on a person’s ability to work. For many people with mental health conditions, managing symptoms and maintaining concentration can be a challenge. As a result, many may find it difficult to meet the demands of their job. In some cases, mental illness may even lead to unemployment and permanent long-term disability. Studies have shown that work plays an important role in mental health. It can provide a sense of purpose and help people to feel connected to others. For people with mental illness, work can be an essential part of recovery. However, work can also be a source of stress. If not managed effectively, work-related stress can trigger or worsen mental health symptoms. Therefore, it is important for employers and co-workers to be aware of the signs of stress and mental illness and to offer support when necessary – including relying on your long-term disability benefit insurer to assist you in a time of need.

What are the top 10 Mental Illness disorders that can prevent an individual from working – and end up on long-term disability?

Below are 10 mental health disorders that can prevent a person from working and collecting long-term disability benefits. This list is not exhaustive, but rather meant to provide a general overview of some of the more common mental illnesses that can interfere with an individual’s ability to function at work:

1. Anxiety

An anxiety disorder is a mental illness characterized by persistent and excessive anxiety that interferes with daily activities. There are several different types of anxiety disorders, including Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, and Specific Phobias. People with anxiety disorders often have trouble sleeping, suffer from fatigue, and have difficulty concentrating. They may avoid situations that trigger their anxiety or use alcohol or drugs to cope with their symptoms. If left untreated, anxiety disorders can lead to depression and other serious mental health problems.

Anxiety can be caused by a number of factors, including stress, genetic predisposition, and medical conditions. anxiety can also be exacerbated by environmental factors, such as noise or bright lights. Symptoms of anxiety include racing heart, sweating, shaking, shortness of breath, and feeling dizzy or faint. If left untreated, anxiety can lead to absenteeism from work, job loss, and financial difficulties. Many worry and obsess excessively about commonplace scenarios and may build up to a full-blown panic attack. Individuals can only be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder if they cannot control their response or if it interferes with their day-to-day activities.

2. Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder characterized by unusual shifts in energy, mood, concentration, and activity levels, all of which impede a person’s ability to carry out their everyday tasks. The disorder involves apparent energy, mood, and activity changes, marked by episodes of extreme joy, irritability, and energized behaviour. These are then preceded or followed by episodes of extreme hopelessness, sadness, and depression. The highs are the manic episodes (hypomanic if they’re not full-blown manic), and the lows are the depressive episodes. Various types of bipolar disorder exist based on how long the manic and hypomanic episodes last.

  • Bipolar I disorder: Bipolar I disorder is a mental illness that is characterized by extreme mood swings. People with bipolar I disorder may experience periods ofmania, during which they feel excessively happy or energetic, followed by periods of depression, during which they feel extremely sad or hopeless. Bipolar I disorder can also cause changes in sleep patterns, energy levels, and appetite. People with bipolar I disorder may have difficulty functioning at work or school and may also experience relationship problems. Bipolar I disorder is a chronic condition that requires lifelong treatment. Treatment typically includes medication and psychotherapy.
  • Bipolar II disorder: Bipolar II disorder is a mental illness that is characterized by episodes of depression and mania. People with bipolar II disorder often have periods of stable mood in between these episodes. Bipolar II disorder is less severe than bipolar I disorder, but it can still be disruptive to a person’s life. Symptoms of bipolar II disorder can include changes in sleep patterns, energy levels, and appetite. People with bipolar II disorder may also experience difficulty concentrating, irritability, and anxiety. If you think you or someone you know may have bipolar II disorder, it is important to see a mental health professional for diagnosis and treatment. Bipolar II disorder is a treatable condition, and there are many effective treatments available. With treatment, people with bipolar II disorder can lead happy and healthy lives.
  • Cyclothymic disorder: It is defined by depressive and hypomanic episodes that last a minimum of two years.

3. Major Depressive Disorder

MDD, or major depressive disorder, is a mental illness that is characterized by a persistent feeling of sadness or loss of interest. MDD is listed in the DSM-5, or the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, which is the most recent version of the manual. MDD is diagnosed when an individual has five or more of the following symptoms:

  • depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day
  • markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day
  • significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day
  • insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day
  • psychomotor retardation or agitation nearly every day
  • fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day
  • feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day
  • diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day
  • recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or specific plan for committing suicide.

An individual must also have experienced these symptoms for at least two weeks in order to be diagnosed with MDD.

MDD, or major depressive disorder, is a mental health condition that can interfere with work. MDD is characterized by symptoms like depressed mood, loss of interest in activities, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating. These symptoms can make it hard to get to work on time, complete tasks, and interact with co-workers – work can be a major source of stress. Suffering form major depressive disorder (MDD) can also make it difficult to concentrate, communicate effectively, and make decisions. As a result, people with MDD often have difficulty performing the tasks required for their job. In severe cases, MDD can lead to absenteeism and job loss – and may even lead to disability benefits. If you are struggling with major depression and your ability to work, it is important to talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.

4. Dissociation and Dissociative Disorders

The term dissociation refers to the process of mentally disconnecting from your feelings, memories, thoughts, and sense of identity. People who have undergone trauma exhibit some level of dissociation or “detachment” from the incident as it happens or in the days or weeks that follow.

Dissociative disorders are more severe than plain dissociation and vary by type and severity. Individuals with the condition feel detached from the goings-on around them and almost feel like they’re watching a film reel of their lives. It makes it impossible for them to perform their daily tasks and work obligations.

Some of the most common dissociative disorders include:

  • Dissociative amnesia: An individual cannot remember the details surrounding a stressful or traumatic event.
  • Dissociative fugue: An individual, without warning, suddenly forgets who they are with no conceivable memory of their past and may begin to invent a new identity for themselves.
  • Depersonalization disorder: This condition is characterized by feelings of detachment from their thoughts and emotion. They may not even recognize their reflection in a mirror.
  • Dissociative identity disorder: This controversial disorder is characterized by an individual having multiple personalities. Each personality may have its own memories, outlook on life, tone, and body language. Different personality states may switch among each other in stressful situations.

5. Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that can have potentially life-threatening consequences. Eating disorders are associated with numerous physical health complications including malnutrition, electrolyte imbalances, gastrointestinal problems, heart conditions, and tooth decay. Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that can have a profound effect on an individual’s ability to work or pursue a career. The symptoms of an eating disorder can interfere with concentration and motivation, and the illness can also lead to absenteeism and job loss. In severe cases, eating disorders can even be fatal. For individuals with eating disorders, early diagnosis and treatment is essential. With proper care, it is possible to recover from an eating disorder and resume a productive life. However, the road to recovery can be long and difficult, and relapses are common. For these reasons, eating disorders can be a major barrier to employment or career advancement.

The common eating disorders include:

  • Anorexia nervosa: Anorexia nervosa is a serious mental illness that is characterized by an intense fear of gaining weight, self-starvation, and an obsessive focus on body weight and shape. Anorexia nervosa typically begins during adolescence, and it is estimated that between 600,000 and 990,000 people in Canada suffer from eating disorders – with many of these suffer from anorexia nervosa. Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, and it is estimated that 20 percent of people with the disorder will die from complications related to starvation or suicide. Anorexia nervosa is a complex illness, and there is no single cause. However, research suggests that a combination of genetic, biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors may contribute to its development. Anorexia nervosa is treatable, but treatment must be tailored to the individual. The most successful approaches combine psychological therapies with medical monitoring and support.
  • Bulimia nervosa: Bulimia nervosa is a serious eating disorder that can have disastrous effects on one’s health, work, and career. Bulimia nervosa is characterized by episodes of binge eating followed by compensatory behaviors such as self-induced vomiting, use of laxatives or diuretics, fasting, or excessive exercise. It is defined by “out-of-control” periods of (secret) binge eating, followed by overwhelming feelings of shame and guilt. It subsequently causes the individual in question to compensate with periods of strict dieting, extreme exercising, and vomiting. These behaviors can lead to serious health problems, including cardiac arrest, electrolyte imbalance, and kidney failure. In addition, bulimia nervosa can also cause significant damage to one’s teeth and esophagus. bulimia nervosa can also lead to absenteeism from work or school, as well as job loss. Therefore, it is important to seek treatment for bulimia nervosa as soon as possible.
  • Binge eating disorder: binge eating disorder (BED) is a mental disorder that is characterized by recurrent binge eating episodes. A binge eating episode is defined as eating an unusually large amount of food in a short period of time, feeling a loss of control over one’s eating, and feeling guilty or ashamed afterwards. BED is a serious condition that can have a negative impact on one’s work, job, or career. Symptoms of BED include frequently eating more food than one normally would in a given period of time, feeling unable to control one’s eating, and feeling guilty or ashamed afterwards.

6. Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline personality disorder is a mental illness that manifests as a pattern of instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image, and emotions. People with borderline personality disorder often have difficulty regulating their emotions, resulting in extreme mood swings. They may also engage in impulsive and risky behaviors, such as drug use, binge eating, and unprotected sex. Additionally, they may experience paranoia and dissociation. People with borderline personality disorder often have a history of trauma or abuse. While the exact cause of borderline personality disorder is unknown, it is believed to be caused by a combination of biological and environmental factors. Treatment for borderline personality disorder typically includes individual psychotherapy, group therapy, and medication.

While BPD can make it hard for people to maintain healthy friendships and romantic relationships, it can also affect a person’s ability to keep a job. In fact, studies have shown that people with BPD are more likely to be unemployed than those without the disorder. There are several reasons for this. People with BPD may have difficulty keeping up with the demands of their job, or they may be unable to get along with co-workers. Additionally, the impulsivity and mood swings associated with BPD can lead to problems with time management and punctuality. As a result, borderline personality disorder can negatively impact a person’s work life, leading to unemployment or other difficulties.

7. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Most people who go through traumatic events may have temporary difficulty adjusting and coping, but with time and good self-care they usually get better. If the symptoms get worse, last for months or even years, and interfere with your day-to-day functioning, you may have PTSD.

PTSD can occur at any age. It’s not just something that happens to combat veterans. Women are more likely to develop PTSD than men, and children exposed to trauma can also develop PTSD.

The condition is characterized by vivid nightmares, flashbacks, or feelings of dread related to the incident, long after it occurred. People with PTSD constantly feel on edge and try to keep themselves distracted to avoid triggers that might remind them of the traumatic incident.

Often, they turn to drugs or alcohol to numb their emotional pain and block out memories of the incident. Unfortunately, it may also result in a co-occurring substance abuse disorder. Many people who suffer from PTSD often have difficulty returning to work. They may feel panicked or anxious in situations that remind them of the trauma, and they may have flashbacks or nightmares. As a result, they may find it difficult to concentrate or to complete tasks.

8. Psychosis

Psychosis is a mental disorder in which people experience a breakdown of their perception of reality. Symptoms of psychosis can include hallucinations, delusions, and thought disorders. People with psychosis may also have difficulty functioning in day-to-day life. A person with psychosis cannot differentiate what’s real from what’s not. Some people may experience a psychotic break at one point in their lives. Others may experience brief episodes that last a few days or weeks. Others may experience psychosis symptoms more frequently, especially if they have an underlying mental illness like schizophrenia. An individual predisposed to the condition will typically experience their first episode in their early twenties or late teens.

Psychosis is characterized by:

  • Hallucinations: They may see, hear, smell, or taste something that’s not present.
  • Delusions: They may share false beliefs that only they subscribe to, such as a conspiracy that someone is out to get them.
  • Confusion: They may use incorrect words to describe objects.

9. Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that affectsw how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. Symptoms can be very different from one person to the next. Some people with schizophrenia may see or hear things that other people don’t – which may be a symptom of psychosis. People with schizophrenia may also have disorganized speech or behavior, and may be withdrawn or seem emotionless. Schizophrenia is a chronic condition, which means it lasts for a long time, usually for the person’s entire life. Schizophrenia can be disabling and make it hard to work, go to school, and socialize. The disorder typically starts in young adulthood, but it can also occur in older adults and children. Schizophrenia affects about 1% of the world’s population. It occurs in all cultures and races. Schizophrenia is not caused by bad parenting or a weakness of character. It is believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Schizophrenia cannot be cured, but it can be treated with medication, therapy, and support. Schizophrenia is a chronic and serious mental illness that affects a person’s ability to think clearly, manage emotions, make decisions, and relate to others. Schizophrenia can make it difficult to keep a job or pursue a career. In fact, only about 25 percent of people with schizophrenia are able to work full-time. The majority of people with schizophrenia are unemployed or underemployed. 

10. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD, is a mental health disorder that is characterized by obsessive thoughts and repetitive behaviors. People with OCD often have difficulty completing tasks due to their obsessive thoughts, and they may engage in repetitive behaviors in order to relieve anxiety. Most people that suffer from OCD have uncontrollable compulsions to perform ritual-like and repetitive actions that are both distressing and time-consuming.

While individuals with OCD usually know how excessive and irrational their obsessions are, they cannot resist the urge to do it. Some common symptoms of OCD include an irrational fear of contamination from dirt and germs, fear of harm or death that may happen to them or others, and excessive concerns for order and symmetry, among others. OCD obsessions can be triggered by situations, objects, smells, a memory, or something you hear. In severe cases of OCD, individuals with the condition may be unable to function normally. People with OCD often have difficulty keeping a job or maintaining employment. This may be due to the nature of the disorder, which can make it difficult to complete tasks or interact with work-peers. In addition, many people with OCD experience anxiety and depression, which can make it difficult to maintain focus and concentration.

If you suffer from a Mental Health Disorder and Denied your Long-Term Disability Benefits we can help.

It is well-documented that mental illness can be disabling. In fact, mental illness is one of the leading causes of disability not only in Canada, but worldwide. Yet, many people with mental illness often face significant barriers to accessing the long-term disability benefits they need and deserve.

If you have been denied long-term disability benefits, you may be feeling lost and uncertain about what to do next – but one thing is important – it is not the end of the road . You still have the full right to hire your own disability lawyer who can help advocate on your behalf. Unfortunately, the process of appealing wrongfully denied disability benefits can be complicated and frustrating, especially if you are dealing with a mental illness or other mental health condition. Our Hamilton long-term disability lawyers can provide much-needed support and guidance during what is likely a very difficult time. You can reach us no matter where you are in Ontario by calling us at 1-844-LALANDE or local in Southern Ontario at 905-333-8888. You can also send us a confidential email and we would be happy to set up your free consultation today to discuss your denied benefits and the extent of which your bipolar disorder prevents you from working.

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Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be legal advice. You should consult with an attorney for individualized legal advice regarding your particular situation. Nothing in this article should be construed as a guarantee or prediction of outcome in any legal matter. The information contained herein is general in nature and may not apply to your specific circumstances. Every legal matter is unique and the law changes constantly. Therefore, the information provided herein may not be accurate for your particular situation at the time you read it. You should always consult with a qualified lawyer for legal advice specific to your circumstances. No lawyer-client relationship is formed by reading this information or by contacting our firm. You are not considered a client of the firm until we have agreed in writing to represent you and that representation has been confirmed in writing by one of our partners. Lalande Personal Injury Lawyers serves clients throughout Ontario.

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