Mental health has gained much-deserved recognition and the conversations have helped people become aware of the conditions, as well as, removing the stigma attached to it. However, there are still some misconceptions, and confusion about mental health disorders that still persist. One such easily confusing issue is between Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). The doctors can easily get confused because you might be having impulsive behavior, mood swings, and suicidal thinking. This makes it tough to even nail down the right diagnosis.
The key difference between bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder is that bipolar disorder is a mood disorder and borderline personality disorder, as its name implies, is a personality disorder. If you have personality disorders you will have persistent thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that deviate from the expectations of society and lead to suffering. If you have bipolar disorder some of the major characteristics will be severe changes in a person’s emotional state that interfere with their ability to function correctly.
What is Borderline Personality Disorder?
Borderline personality disorder, an often misunderstood condition, is characterized by struggles to regulate emotions. People with this disorder have highly reactive and intense moods and unstable relationships. Their behavior can be impulsive. They are also more likely than average to attempt or commit suicide. Sometimes, without intending to commit suicide, they harm themselves (for example, cutting or burning) as a form of self-punishment or to combat an empty feeling.
There’s no single reason why some people develop borderline personality disorder (BPD). It is believed the combination of inherited biological traits and environmental conditions. From bullying to a childhood trauma involving emotional and sexual abuse and neglect, a wide spectrum of environmental factors may contribute to the disorders’ development.
- Intense fear of being abandoned
- Poor self-image
- Suicidal or self-harming thoughts or behavior
- Displays of inappropriate anger
- Extreme anxiety or irritability
- Impulsive behavior
- Unstable relationships
- Constant mood changes
- Chronic feelings of emptiness
Diagnosis and Treatment
To begin, if someone has signs of BPD, their doctor or psychologist will carefully ask questions about their life, experiences, and symptoms before making the diagnosis. It could take more than one session to be sure of the diagnosis. This is because some of the symptoms of BPD are similar to the symptoms of other mental health conditions.
In addition to this, no single medication exists to cure borderline personality. A combination of several medications such as mood stabilizers and antidepressants along with therapies like Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) has proved effective.
What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder, formerly called manic depression or manic-depressive illness, is a mental disorder characterized by recurrent depression or mania with abrupt or gradual onsets and recoveries. A bipolar person in the depressive phase may be sad, despondent, listless, lacking in energy, and unable to show interest in his or her surroundings or to enjoy himself or herself and may have a poor appetite and disturbed sleep. Mania is an extreme feeling of well-being, energy, and optimism—you feel on top of the world. These feelings, however, can be so intense that you can lose contact with reality.
There are two main types of bipolar disorder. Bipolar I disorder involves episodes of severe mania and often depression. Bipolar II disorder involves a less severe form of mania called hypomania. There is also a third type known as a Cyclothymic disorder.
Researchers haven’t been able to pinpoint a single cause, but it seems that a combination of genes and environmental factors, can awaken bipolar.
Symptoms of a manic or hypomanic episode include:
- The decreased need for sleep
- Talking excessively
- Racing thoughts
- You can get easily distracted
- Physical agitation and relentless movement
- Increased sexual desire
- Impulsive risk behaviors (including gambling and lavish spending)
- Irritability, hostility, or aggression
- Delusions or hallucinations
An individual may experience the following symptoms during the depressive episode:
- Crying for no reason or prolonged periods of sadness
- Feelings of guilt or hopelessness
- Loss of interest in activities that usually give you pleasure
- Extreme fatigue, including the inability to get out of bed
- Loss of interest in your health, nutrition, or physical appearance
- Difficulty concentrating or remembering things
- Sleeping excessively or difficulty sleeping
- Suicidal thoughts or an impulse to self-harm
Diagnosis and Treatment
Your provider will talk with you to determine your symptoms, their duration, intensity, and frequency. Following this, they will gauge how your symptoms impair daily life, school, work, and relationships. In addition to this, your physician will also consider your family history when diagnosing. If there are family members with bipolar or depression, that’s a red flag for genetic predisposition to developing a bipolar disorder.
Both disorders are serious conditions. Both of them can be successfully treated and their treatment options are very different. Their success is dependent on a correct diagnosis and on a carefully crafted individualized plan for care and support. At Regency, we have experienced psychiatrists and psychologists that have the expertise and knowledge to diagnose mental health conditions.