Many people wonder what the difference is between borderline personality disorder (BPD) and bipolar disorder (BD). These two mental health conditions have a lot of overlap in terms of their symptoms, which can lead to misdiagnosis and mistreatment. It’s essential that someone struggling with a mental health disorder understand it.
A borderline personality disorder affects around 1.6 percent of the population in the United States with more than 75 percent of these people being women. Bipolar disorder affects a little over 2.7 percent of Americans, and this number is almost evenly split between men and women.
This guide examines both conditions, their symptoms, and treatment to help someone struggling with a mental health disorder find the information they need.
Overview of Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental health condition characterized by extreme instability in moods, behavior, and relationships. People with BPD often experience intense and unpredictable shifts in their emotions, often referred to as “emotional dysregulation.”
These shifts make it hard for them to create and maintain stable relationships and cope with everyday life. BPD usually begins in adolescence and is usually diagnosed in early adulthood, and the underlying causes of BPD are generally unknown.
Someone struggling with BPD can build the tools that they need to live a more normal life. In some cases, the therapist and patient might agree to try and maintain the use of medication to make improvements. This can depend on the severity of this mental health condition in a specific patient, which varies from one person to the next.
Symptoms of BPD
Some of the most common symptoms of BPD include:
- Extreme changes in mood and behavior
- Violent or reckless behavior
- Unstable self-image
- Feelings of emptiness
- Intense fear of abandonment
- Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
- Difficulty controlling anger
- Impulsive behavior
- Difficulty trusting others
If someone struggles with these signs or knows a person who does, it’s essential that they seek help from a professional to begin the recovery process.
Common Treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder
People with BPD can benefit from a variety of treatments, including psychotherapy, medications, and support groups. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is the most common form of therapy used to treat BPD, and it can help people learn to regulate their emotions, build relationships, and make healthier decisions.
Medications may also be prescribed to treat some of the more serious symptoms of BPD. Antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and mood stabilizers are all commonly used to treat BPD.
Support groups can also be very beneficial for people with BPD to provide encouragement and understanding from others with similar experiences. When working with a therapist, someone struggling with borderline personality disorder needs to keep the lines of communication and be honest about what therapies they feel are working or not working.
Overview of Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar Disorder is a mental health disorder characterized by extreme shifts in moods, energy, and activity levels. People with bipolar disorder typically experience episodes of mania and depression that can last from days to months.
Bipolar Disorder usually develops in late adolescence or early adulthood and is usually managed with medication and psychotherapy. A person struggling with bipolar disorder will usually need to maintain the use of medication throughout their lifetime to live as normally as possible.
Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
Some of the most common symptoms of bipolar disorder include:
- Extreme shifts in mood and energy
- Periods of mania and depression
- Feelings of euphoria
- Increased energy and productivity
- Impulsive behavior
- Racing thoughts
- Depressive episodes
- Prolonged and extreme irritability
If a person experiences these symptoms, they’ll need to work with their doctor and mental health professional to determine if they’re struggling with bipolar disorder. After a diagnosis, they can begin treatment and live more normally.
Common Treatment for Bipolar Disorder
The primary treatment for Bipolar Disorder is medication, typically mood stabilizers such as lithium. While medication levels can be adjusted from time to time, someone struggling with bipolar disorder can expect to take the medication indefinitely. Psychotherapy is also often recommended to help people with BD manage their symptoms and learn to cope with stress and triggers.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is often an option for someone struggling with bipolar disorder. It can help them identify and change patterns of thought and behavior that can trigger manic or depressive episodes. Support groups can also be helpful for people with BD to provide a safe space to talk about their experiences with others.
Mood Disorder vs. Personality Disorder
It’s important to note that bipolar disorder is a mood disorder while borderline personality disorder is a personality disorder. Mood disorders involve shifts in mood that can last for days or weeks. Personality disorders involve patterns of behavior and thoughts that are pervasive and long-lasting.
Ways Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality Are Diagnosed
Borderline Personality Disorder is typically diagnosed by a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist, based on a set of criteria. Bipolar Disorder is usually diagnosed through a physical exam, psychological evaluation, and lab tests.
Can a Person Have Both Disorders?
It is possible to have both bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder. If this is the case, it is referred to as “dual diagnosis.” A mental health professional can accurately diagnose and treat both disorders. With bipolar disorder, the mental health professional will probably work with the person’s doctor to reach the final diagnosis.
Acera Health Helps People Live With Borderline Personality Disorder and Bipolar Disorder
To get the most effective treatment, a person needs to understand the differences between bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder. While these two mental health conditions have similarities and overlap, they also have distinct characteristics that set them apart.
When a person believes that they are struggling with one or both of these conditions, they need to find a mental health treatment center that they can trust. At Acera Health, we are dedicated to helping people get the mental health care they need and deserve. From diagnosis to treatment, our caring staff provides outstanding care. Contact us today to get started!
Melody is a highly skilled proactive clinical administrator, with more than 17 years of experience serving the community in the behavioral health field.
Her clinical management career started in 2011 as a compliance manager and program director. In 2018, she became an executive as chief clinical officer (CCO). She is a seasoned licensed marriage & family therapist.