I was talking to a friend the other day, who has bipolar disorder and we got to talking about this person’s job and how a regular schedule was requested. Basically, the hours worked weren’t in any kind of routine, and it was causing major problems with sleep and also aggravating the bipolar. This person hasn’t been diagnosed all that long, and is constantly learning what works to keep things on an even keel.
One of those things is routine. For many with bipolar disorder, a set routine is paramount. I know for my friend, things seem to coast along a lot better when things are set. For example, while in school, my friend knew what days were class days, what assignments needed to be done, when time for sleep, even limited, was available. With the job, the hours were never the same, there was no routine, just when a sleep schedule was becoming something to get used to, things would change. My friend finally realized this wasn’t going to work, and finally confided in a manager who totally understood and created a set schedule that is condusive to a normal sleep pattern.
When my friend was telling me all this, I couldn’t help but think about what I’ve read about autism that is so similar. I told my friend this and said it would make for an interesting subject to research.
So I googled “autism and bipolar”. The article I found is quite old, from 2003. Actually it’s less of an article and more a question from a parent of an autistic child. The parents were both diagnosed with bipolar 2 and she wondered if there was any correlation. The doctor’s response is that he’s not sure, and after doing some of his own research, didn’t find anything definitive.
One thing I found interesting is that there was a study done giving Depakote to autistic children, and some improvement was noticed. Depakote is one of the effective treatments for bipolar.
I know things like this might never be scientifically proven, but one has to wonder, especially with anything neurological. Are they all related? Will we ever know?
PS – The page linked above includes links the doctor referenced in his answer.