In Occupational Class and Symptoms of Depression by Christopher Bagley from Social Science Medicine 7 (1973) 327-339, p.331, Bagley asserts, “The studies reviewed suggest that there is some support for the view that some types of ‘depression’ and upper class economic position are related…the finding may apply to…the classic manic depressive psychosis in particular.”
Well, I have done a bit of snipping in the above quotation (clearly evident by he ellipses) but the core idea remains the same.
Is there really a correlation? It’s hard to tell. It would be interesting to take one of my unscientific polls involving coworkers, but stigma around bipolarity is so great there are only two people I work with who have admitted to having a mental illness, and neither of them are bipolar. Reading blogs of bipolar people, I do see a trend towards those with high stress, high paying jobs admitting to manic depression. The recent ‘literature’ (thank you, Google) is mixed. According to a September 10, 2010 article on Psychcentral.com, “People with bipolar disorder are more likely to be single, disabled, and have a lower income than people without the disorder, according to new research.” Yet, a July 10, 2010 article on brighthub.com claims, “Studies have shown that those who have a higher socioeconomic status are more likely to suffer from bipolar disorder. One other interesting note is that those who are involved in creative arts have a 10 to 20% higher chance of developing this serious mental illness than those who are in the general population.” The resources cited for this article include a 2007 reference from PsychCentral and a NIMH article.
IMHE(xperience), I feel I fall into the latter group simply due to the level of stress a career that qualifies for an upper class economic position entails. What I do for a living and where I do it is irrelevant. The impact of what I do, however, is significant in that it has global ramifications. No pressure, right? Another significant stressful situation preceding my hospitalization was the threat of downsizing. Virtually everyone I know has lived under the threat for the last 2.5 years. Thankfully (I think), I was the only one who wound up in The Spa. (I did escape layoff myself.)
There most likely is a correlation between bipolar and socioeconomic standing, but to what overall end I am uncertain. What I am sure of is the positive role my career plays in the severity of my own bipolarity.