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Bipolar Disorders and Money Problems

One of the classic symptoms of bipolar, or manic depressive, disorder is overspending. This can mean a lot of things varying on the person and he or she’s ‘usual’ spending habits. For example, a person may buy a certain style of shoes in twelve different colors. He or she may buy an unaffordable vacation on a whim. “When I am high I couldn’t worry about money if I tried. So I don’t.” Kay Redfield Jamison said, “The money will come from somewhere; I am entitled; God will provide. Credit cards are disastrous, personal checks worse. Unfortunately, for manics anyway, mania is a natural extension of the economy.” Internet shopping is a bottomless pit, money falling through the web where their are no immediate consequences – until your bank statement and credit card balance come in the mail. Then it hits: You have a problem managing your money.

Sometimes we make crazy decisions with our money. Patty Duke handed over her accounts to two men she met in a parking lot. Obviously not the best idea.

Grandiosity can lead to a lot of trouble when it comes to mania and spending. Crazy investments seem sane at the time we make them when really we have done no research, so we pour cash into them. Gifting to friends, family, or charity feels good especially when you are already feeling great from mania. “…lavish meals with friends where I picked up $1000 tabs,” said Andy Behrman. “These high-priced activities were within my limits because I was extremely successful financially, a testament to my manic behavior, not to mention my involvement in illegal activities.”

Overspending can lead to gambling on anything from horse races to the Vegas tables. Promiscuity is another symptom of bipolar disorder and can be somewhat attributed to overspending. Cybersex, dinners, hotels rooms, wine and champagne as well as lingerie for extra-marital partners can not only drain a bank account and max out credit cards. It can ruin relationships.

What can a person do to alleviate bankruptcy both financially and in relationships when …it’s kind of like a perfect storm for overspending,” says Dr. George Hadjipavlou, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of British Columbia. “You totally underestimate risk and overestimate your ability to do things such as earn money and pay it back.” An Australian study in 2013 found that many of the participants had serious financial with other problems arise when the subject was hypomanic.

Constructing  financial accountability with others is a great way to keep you and your finances in balance. There are free money-managing apps so that someone in hypomania or their loved one’s can identify where money is being spent. Sticking to a budget helps everyone – those with bipolar disorder and those without it. The important thing is to be aware of your spending and being honest with those in your life of that spending.

As I have alluded to, relationships suffer because of this type of overspending. Mistrust. Financial ruin for a family. Being unable to buy necessities instead of frivolities. It all wears on people in relationships with people who live with bipolar disorder. And for some, it is enough of a strain to say goodbye.


Bipolar Disorders and Money Problems

Elaina J. Martin

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APA Reference
Martin, E. (2018). Bipolar Disorders and Money Problems. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 8, 2020, from


Last updated: 9 Oct 2018
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