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Can you go to jail for being bipolar?

Could bipolar mania land you in jail?


There is nothing inherent in mental illnesses like bipolar disorder that causes someone to end up in jail. Untreated disorders can, however, lead to behaviors that can lead to jail time for people with bipolar disorder.


It is not unheard of for people to be arrested during one of their mania phases, for example, because they have engaged in illegal actions. Mania is a phase that can get people into trouble. Approximately 13% of people who have experienced a manic episode reported some sort of legal involvement during their most severe manic episode. Various studies have cited that the prevalence rates of bipolar disorder among prisoners is between 2% to 7%, which is significantly higher than the general population.


Bipolar disorder is a major mental health disorder that can cause serious disruption in people's lives. It is characterized by extreme highs and lows in mood, known as manic and depressive episodes. People with bipolar disorder can experience periods of extreme euphoria, energy, and creativity (manic episodes) as well as periods of deep sadness and despair (depressive episodes).


  • Mania is smashing a school window for fun.

  • Mania is kissing your best friend's husband in front of them before running off with some random stranger you just met for a one night stand.

  • Mania is pulling out thousands in debts and overdrafts to pay for extravagant clothing and knick-knacks.

  • Mania is believing everyone adores you.

  • Mania is thinking you’re a historical figure reincarnated.

  • Mania is leaving your child in a bath calling out for you whilst you are lost in a different reality.

  • Mania is being told to go home by your best friend because you blurted out nonstop for two and a half hours without letting them say a word.

  • Mania is thinking you’re on a government blacklist because you’re not getting accepted for job interviews.

  • Mania is trying to ruin a person's career for reasons only you can think of.



How does someone with bipolar disorder stay out of jail when they have manic episodes?


People with bipolar disorder may be more prone to impulsive behavior, which can lead to criminal behavior. It is important to have a support system in place that can help a person with bipolar disorder manage their symptoms and prevent them from engaging in criminal behavior. Professional treatment can also help people with bipolar disorder manage their symptoms and reduce the risk of criminal behavior.


Impulsive behavior dramatically increases during manic phases and is difficult to control. Bipolar disorder can be stabilized by getting a diagnosis and treatment plan from a mental health professional. There are signs and signals that someone with bipolar disorder is headed into a manic phase. With experience, you can begin to recognize these symptoms and put protections and support in place to help you make good decisions while in a manic phase.




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