Mental Health

Borderline Personality Disorder vs. Bipolar Disorder: What’s the Difference?

Borderline Personality Disorder vs. Bipolar

Do you know the difference between borderline personality disorder vs. bipolar disorder? Though many assume BPD is the acronym of bipolar disorder, bipolar and borderline personality disorder are quite different. Despite similar tendencies towards impulsiveness and mood swings, there are important distinctions that set them apart.

Here’s what to know about borderline personality disorder vs. bipolar disorder, including the difference between bipolar and borderline personality disorder symptoms, appropriate treatment methods, and more.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder, which falls within the family of mood (affective) disorders, consists of two types: Bipolar 1, characterized by having at least one manic episode (occurring for a minimum of one week) and possible depressive episodes; Bipolar 2, characterized by the occurrence of at least one “hypomanic” episode (occurring for a minimum of 4 days) and at least one episode of depression. 

General symptoms may include:

  • Intense mood swings, sometimes rapid and sometimes not
  • Depressive and/or manic episodes that last for days, weeks, or months at a time
  • Irritability or expansive mood
  • Bursts of intense energy or excessive sleepiness

Common symptoms of bipolar disorder during depressive episodes include:

  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Loss of energy
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Sadness

Common symptoms of bipolar disorder during manic episodes include:

  • Lack of impulse control
  • Poor judgment and increased risk taking
  • Excessive energy
  • Extreme emotions
  • Racing thoughts
  • Less need for sleep

Treatment for bipolar disorder: Bipolar disorder is a lifelong disorder that requires ongoing treatment, usually in the form of medication and cognitive behavioral therapy. Types of medications used to treat bipolar disorder include mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and antidepressants. Before seeking treatment, persons should consult with their doctor or mental health professional.

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is part of a cluster of mental health disorders called “personality disorders”. BPD is characterized by an instability of relationships, affect, and impulsivity. This may present as self-damaging behavior, emotion dysregulation, fear of abandonment, and intense or extreme relationships. 

Common symptoms of BPD include:

  • Difficulty managing emotions
  • Strong and abrupt mood swings in response to stressful situations, including inappropriate anger
  • Difficulty maintaining healthy relationships
  • Negative self-image
  • Self-harm
  • Fear of abandonment
  • Impulsivity

Treatment for BPD: A main course of action for individuals with BPD involves psychotherapy, which seeks to teach valuable skills for managing and coping with BPD symptoms. Medications may be prescribed as well, but this is often on a case-by-case basis and at the suggestion of a doctor or other medical professional. 

BPD vs. Bipolar Disorder: Understanding the Differences

There is certainly quite a bit of overlap between these two disorders, with symptoms such as mood swings, impulsivity, and strong, unmanageable emotions appearing with both. However, they differ in some pretty significant ways:

  • Mood shifts – People with BPD tend to swing rapidly between moods, whereas those with bipolar disorder typically experience shifts that last for a sustained period of time.
  • Triggers – BPD emotional shifts are usually triggered by a fear of abandonment or need for validation. In bipolar disorder, shifts occur episodically.
  • Types of emotions – People with BPD and bipolar disorder both experience a range of emotions; however, individuals with bipolar disorder additionally experience periods of elation.

Personality disorder vs. mood disorder: Another major distinction between these two disorders is the way they are classified. Mood disorders like bipolar have an episodic pattern, while personality disorders like BPD are relational, and often center around how one relates to others. 

Want to Know More?

For all of their differences, both BPD and bipolar disorder are serious yet common mental health conditions, and both can have a major impact on someone’s life. At Synergy Health Programs, we seek to provide both education and awareness on mental health disorders, as well as qualified mental health treatment. Contact us today to learn more, as well as for information about our mental and behavioral health services. 

May 27th, 2022