It’s hard to keep up with all the different terms when it comes to mental health. Two common words you might have heard related to mental health are “bipolar disorder” and “borderline personality disorder”. While it’s easy to assume that these two conditions are similar, there are key differences between them.

In this post, we’ll delve into the difference between BPD and bipolar disorder, how a person might have both disorders at the same time, and how they’re treated. Let’s start by taking a look at each of these conditions separately. Keep on reading!

What is Bipolar Disorder?

difference between bpd and bipolar

You may have heard of bipolar disorder, but do you really know what it is? Bipolar disorder is a mental health disorder characterized by extreme shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels. It is one of the most common mood disorders known in the US. Bipolar disorder affects about 2.8 percent of American adults aged 18 and over, or around 7 million.

The hallmark symptoms of bipolar disorder are:

  • Manic episodes which involve elevated moods, increased energy, and risky behaviors
  • Depressive episodes involve very low moods, reduced energy, and low self-esteem

People with bipolar disorder can experience both mania and experience depression at the same time; this is called a “mixed episode”. There is also a milder form called hypomania, which causes fewer extreme symptoms than full-on mania.

A certified mental health professional’s assessment serves as the basis of the diagnosis. This mental health specialist will be on the lookout for behavior changes that continue for at least two weeks or longer. Treatment for bipolar disorder often includes medication or therapy, depending on the severity of the symptoms.

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a mental health condition that affects how you think, feel, and behave. Unlike Bipolar Disorder, which is a mood disorder, BPD is a personality disorder. It is characterized by a pervasive pattern of instability in moods, interpersonal relationships, identity, and behavior lasting at least 6 months, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

The most common symptoms associated with BPD include:

  • Impulsive behavior. Individuals with this disorder may engage in risky behavior or adopt extreme coping mechanisms such as self-harm or suicide attempts.
  • Unstable relationships. People with BPD may exhibit extreme emotions in their relationships and often engage in “black-and-white” thinking. This means that they see people as either good or bad, without any middle ground.
  • Lack of self-identity. People with BDP may find it hard to establish a sense of who they are or who they want to be. As a result, they may move from activity to activity without ever feeling truly satisfied with any one thing.

BPD, like other mental health illnesses, can be very crippling if untreated, but it can be controlled with treatments including dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and drugs like antidepressants and antipsychotics.

Bipolar Disorder vs Borderline Personality Disorder

What do bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder have in common? Both are mental illnesses and because they involve moods, they can sometimes appear similar to each other.

But it’s important to understand that these two mental illnesses are separate entities. Here are the main ways in which bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder overlap and the differences between them:

The biggest difference between these two disorders is the way they affect people. Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that affects how people feel, think, behave, and function on a daily basis. People with bipolar disorder experience extreme emotional swings and have difficulty regulating their emotions over an extended period of time.

On the other hand, borderline personality disorder is a behavioral or personality-based disorder that affects how people act or interact with others in their lives. People with BPD suffer from intense anger and impulsivity, as well as unstable relationships, rapidly shifting self-image issues and a fear of abandonment.

Bipolar disorder is diagnosed through comprehensive screenings that look at mood swings over an extended period of time as well as a family history of mental illness or drug abuse. BPD may be diagnosed if a person has had five or more of its nine specific symptoms for an extended period of time (more than 12 months).

Both conditions can be managed with medication or therapy; however, treating each one is very different because they are so different from each other. Bipolar disorder treatment focuses on stabilizing one’s moods, while BPD treatment focuses more on controlling how one’s emotions and behaviors affect their day-to-day activities.

Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder

borderline personality disorder vs bipolar disorder

When it comes to diagnosing bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder, it’s important to understand the differences in symptoms. Knowing the signs, symptoms, and behaviors associated with each disorder can help healthcare professionals make a much more accurate diagnosis.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is diagnosed through a careful assessment of past and present symptoms. To be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, an individual must experience extreme mood swings. This may range from manic episodes of high energy levels to depression.

A diagnosis is generally made based on a medical history and physical exam. Tracking mood patterns over time can be helpful in diagnosing bipolar disorder as well. This may involve keeping a daily record of mood, sleep patterns, energy levels, and any other relevant symptoms.

Borderline Personality Disorder

A mental health expert, such as a therapist or psychiatrist, can identify borderline personality disorder through a thorough evaluation that involves interviews, mental health questionnaires, tests, and observation. In order to receive a BPD diagnosis, an individual must have five or more characteristics from the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria. These include problems with relationships with family members and peers, difficulty regulating emotions throughout daily life circumstances, and experiences with volatile relationships.

Can You Have Both BPD and Bipolar Disorder?

You may be wondering if it is possible to have both Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder at the same time. The answer is yes; it’s possible for someone to have both disorders, which are called “co-occurring” disorders. It’s important that both disorders be properly diagnosed and treated to ensure a good quality of life. Look for a qualified mental health specialist who is familiar with both disorders and can work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses your needs.

There are a few different treatment options for someone with co-occurring Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder. Here are some of them:

In some cases, medication may be the best option for treating someone with co-occurring Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder. Some medications used for treating mood disorders can also help with managing symptoms of BPD such as antipsychotics and mood stabilizers.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on how thoughts and behaviors are connected. With CBT, you can work on recognizing and changing patterns of negative thoughts that may lead to bouts of depression or mania in people with Bipolar Disorder or impulsive behavior in people with Borderline Personality Disorder.

Dialectical behavioral therapy has many similarities to CBT but also has an added focus on mindfulness as well as learning new skills like interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and mindfulness skills in order to manage emotions better. DBT helps people build awareness of their emotions and learn how to respond healthier than by engaging in self-destructive behaviors or lashing out at others.

Participating in group therapy sessions can provide support and validation while learning from others who face similar challenges. Group therapy can help improve social skills and enhance coping strategies.

Adopting a healthy lifestyle can support overall well-being. Regular exercise, sufficient sleep, stress management techniques, and a balanced diet can contribute to mood stability. Avoiding alcohol and illicit drugs is also important, as they can interfere with the medication’s effectiveness.

Individuals with BPD can benefit from learning self-help techniques to manage their symptoms. This may include practicing relaxation techniques, maintaining a daily routine, journaling, and engaging in activities that bring joy or a sense of accomplishment.

Everyone’s experience is unique. A combination of pharmacological interventions (medications) as well as psychological interventions (like therapy) can provide long-term relief from symptoms associated with these two mood disorders when appropriately tailored to each person’s individual needs.

Adler Health can Assist with Your Mood or Personality Disorder Today!

At Adler Health, we understand that living with a mood or personality disorder can be challenging. Our dedicated team of professionals is here to help you navigate the complexities of these conditions and work on a personalized treatment plan tailored to your unique needs. We specialize in various therapeutic approaches and other evidence-based treatments, to help you overcome the obstacles you face.

Whether you’re battling anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, or a personality disorder, our caring staff is dedicated to giving you the support and direction you need to live a happy, fulfilled life. Don’t let your mental health challenges hold you back any longer, reach out to Adler Health today and take the first step towards a brighter future.