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Borderline Personality Disorder vs Bipolar Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder vs Bipolar Disorder Houston

Everyone reacts differently to challenging situations in life, and mood swings are common. However, if your mood swings are so extreme that they are causing you trouble in your daily life, they could be signs of a more serious mental health problem.

Bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder are two different mental health conditions marked by significant mood swings, impulsive behavior, and complex relationships.

Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder, whereas borderline personality disorder , as the name implies, a personality disorder. Intense mood swings and spontaneous activity mark both, but each has its symptoms, causes, and remedies.

According to SAMHSA, it is estimated that 3.68% of Texans have a mental health condition, including bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder.

To help you determine if you have one of these mental health issues, we'll go through the symptoms of each and some of the differences and similarities between them.

Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder

Mood swings in people with borderline personality disorder are more frequent than in those with bipolar disorder. They might shift in hours, not days or months.

Mood swings are usually a reaction to a stressor in one's daily life or are terrified of abandonment, frequently to the point of irrationality. They may develop paranoia, believing that people are attempting to hurt them purposely.

Next, we'll go through how BPD is diagnosed.

Diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 5th Edition (DMS-5), is the diagnostic criteria for psychological conditions for professionals. To diagnose a borderline personality disorder, it states that there needs to be a pattern of instability in personal relationships, self-image and mood, and impulsiveness.

 A person must also exhibit five or more of the following symptoms:

  • Fear of abandonment, either real or fictitious
  • Personal relationships usually filled with love and hate, black or white, or good or bad
  • An unstable sense of self-image
  • Impulsivity in at least two areas which disrupt living that is reckless, such as drug use or shoplifting
  • Intense mood swings that only last a few hours or a few days
  • Always feeling empty
  • Inappropriate anger or inability to control it
  • Dissociation or paranoid tendencies

What Are Some of the Symptoms and Characteristics of Borderline Personality Disorder?

A person who has borderline personality disorder will have tumultuous relationships. The way that they think about other people and themselves can be irrational.

They will also display some of these symptoms:

  • Paranoid thoughts
  • Go from worshiping someone to despising them in minutes
  • Negative self talk
  • Changes in self-image or values
  • Sabotaging success
  • Suicidal threats or self-injury out of fear of separation
  • Mood swings that last a few hours to a few days
  • Loses their temper
  • They get into physical altercations
  • Sarcastic
  • Holding a grudge

They may discern people's intentions and motivations intuitively. Still, they may be mistaken about others' intentions and motivations, leading to paranoia and distrust.

They can use this interpersonal intelligence to navigate personal relationships better if they learn to control their emotions.

However, hypersensitivity to other individuals can often result in mood fluctuations. Any number of unpleasant events or situations may cause someone to feel perpetually triggered.

Understanding Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder characterized by intense mood swings. The mood swings range from mania with high energy to depression and low energy states.

Because manic people have a lot of energy and make rash decisions, they may clean the entire house or drain a bank account. Reckless spending is a common manic symptom.

When someone is depressed, they may feel tired and hopeless. As a result, individuals may refuse to leave the house for days, even for crucial tasks like jobs or school.

The mood swings between extreme high and extreme low will sometimes last months at a time. Mood swings affect emotions and behavior, sleep, energy, and sometimes the ability to reason.

A Diagnosis of Bipolar 

When a person exhibits an episode of mania and an episode of depression, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 5th Edition (DSM-5), bipolar disorder may be the appropriate diagnosis.

Symptoms And Characteristics Of Bipolar Disorder

The most significant symptoms of bipolar disorder are the extreme shifts in mood. Both the highs and the lows must be present for the diagnosis of bipolar disorder to be given.

Some symptoms of a manic episode may include the following:

  • Rapid speech
  • Euphoria, extremely happy
  • Easily distracted
  • Feeling on top of the world, unstoppable
  • Decreased appetite
  • Feeling wired
  • Grandiosity
  • Racing thoughts
  • Problems with problem-solving or rational thinking
  • Reduced need for sleep
  • Risky behaviors: unprotected sex, drug use, impulsive spending, gambling
  • Psychosis

Some symptoms of a depression state may include:

  • Hopelessness or sad
  • Flat expressions
  • Lack of motivation
  • Exaggerated negative thoughts and beliefs
  • Changes in weight
  • Isolating from others
  • Slower speech
  • Fatigue
  • Sleeping too much
  • Sleeping too little
  • Anhedonia, loss of pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory issues
  • Feeling slowed down and unable to finish projects
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Differences Between BPD and Bipolar Disorder

There are many differences between the two mental health conditions. Sometimes the two can overlap, and someone could have both BPD and BD.

Some of the differences between the two include:

  • Mood swing duration: The length of mood swings with BPD are rapid cycling between depression and mania and could switch up many times in one day. But with BD, episodes of depression and mania last much longer. Episodes of depression or mania could last months or more.
  • Self-harm: BPD is more likely to self-harm, such as cutting. For example, people may cut themselves to release mental pain by inducing physical pain in their minds.
  • Relationships: People with BPD have more severe relationship problems than those with BD.
  • Genetics: BP may stem from more hereditary factors than BPD.
  • Stabilization: With BP, mood can stabilize in between episodes, but with BPD, the mood is affected by people and stress.

Now that we have explained how they are different, let’s examine how they are alike.

Similarities Between BPD and Bipolar Disorder

There are some similarities between the two, which is a big reason they often get confused.

Both mental conditions produce extreme emotional responses to stressful situations. They can both involve risqué behaviors and impulsivity.

Some of the similar factors and causes between the two could include brain anomalies.

Some other factors that may lead to the development of either disorder are stressful childhood situations.

 These could include:

  • Neglect
  • Physical or sexual abuse
  • Parents with substance use problems
  • Over-authoritative parents
  • Separated from a parent when they were young
  • Exposed to domestic violence
  • Parents have mental health issues

When children grow up in a setting where they don't know how people will react regularly, they learn to cope with difficult events by reading others' emotions. They do this to protect themselves from the environment at an early age.

In addition, they learn to adapt to their parents' erratic behavior as a survival strategy. In this way, these mental health conditions can be passed between generations.

Both BD and BPD have some of the same co-occurring mental health conditions.

They include:

  • Substance use disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Eating disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Depression

Both disorders feature episodes of irrational thinking.

They can also both cause suicidal thoughts and ideas. In 2014, in Texas, there were around 658,000 adults who had thoughts of suicide. So 3.4% of the population in our state has severe thoughts of suicide.

Suicide is a serious issue with both of these mental health conditions. Thankfully, there are treatment options available for both if you have any suicidal thoughts.

Treatment of Bipolar And Borderline Personality Disorder

While both conditions are life-long, thankfully, they are both treatable. 

Counseling is a way to work on coping skills and thought processes. 

We can use some medications to treat bipolar disorder. 

Some medications can help you cope with the symptoms of borderline personality disorder, but counseling is the right approach.

SUN Behavioral Houston is here to help if you believe you could benefit from bipolar disorder treatment. We provide cognitive behavioral therapy to assist you in identifying destructive thought patterns and learning to manage and cope with them. 

In addition, our master’s level therapists can assist you in determining the motivation for some of your negative thought patterns and re-directing them into positive ones.

We want you to be able to live the life you deserve without mood and energy fluctuation getting in your way. 

Treatment may utilize medication in conjunction with CBT to manage your symptoms better.

Beat BPD or BD With SUN

If you or a loved one has bipolar disorder, don't hesitate to get in touch with SUN Behavioral Houston at (713) 796-2273 so that we can help you improve your quality of life now.



What is the main difference between bipolar and borderline personality disorder?

A borderline personality disorder is characterized by mood fluctuations caused by a stress response. They are unable to regulate their emotions effectively and lack a definite self-image.

People with bipolar disorder exhibit mood swings from low to high, but they also have periods of stable mood.

BD responds better to medicine, and it may be a biological issue rather than a psychological one.

Can BPD be mistaken for bipolar?

Both mental conditions can cause intense emotional reactions. Both disorders can have suicidal behaviors, risky behaviors, and impulsivity. More is known about BP, so it is not uncommon for someone to be misdiagnosed.

It is also possible that someone could have both disorders, and, because some symptoms overlap, they may be more severe.

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