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BPD VS. Bipolar Disorder: Understanding The Differences

For a layman, there won’t be visible differences between borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder. After all, both are mental disorders and involve difficulties with impulse control and mood shifts. Both can appear so similar that most doctors and medical practitioners based in clinical settings can have a tough time distinguishing one from the other. However, correct diagnosis of each is vital, at least when determining treatment for both these psychiatric conditions.

Why Is Diagnosis A Vital Aspect?

It is chiefly based on patterns or symptoms that we can reach a point of diagnosis. Frankly speaking, a clear biological model is essential, and given the complexities that the human brain is known for, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) offers professionals some clues about getting ahead with a trustworthy and continuous diagnosis.

How To Distinguish One From The Other?

Bipolar disorder is all about mood episodes, depression, and something more of mania. On the other hand, borderline personality disorder involves a persistent form of behavior — having extreme ups and downs. Now, this is largely similar to both, so sufferers cannot be easily segregated into two separate categories. Bipolar disorder can be divided into Type 1 and Type 2. The former has manic symptoms and sometimes characterizes hallucinations, while the latter seems very similar to borderline personality disorder. For better understanding, these are a few ways how it’ll be helpful to demarcate bipolar from BPD.

Change Of Moods

People affected with bipolar Type 1 keep oscillating from depression to mania. The latter includes deep depressive states within the manic episode (like rapid cycling). In between these cycles, people also experience ‘true-symptom-free wellness’. Now, this can last for a considerable time, like weeks, months, and sometimes, years. Now, BPD includes emotional symptoms that create a substantial impact on everyday living, but are usually short-lived and reactive towards stress, both at home and work.

Sleep Changes

Bipolar disorder is marked by noticeable changes in sleep patterns. So, you might see someone who can be awake for days at a stretch, and that too without feeling exhausted. On the other hand, BPD patients do not suffer in this way as their sleep patterns are considerably less impacted.

Family History

Many might not know this but bipolar disorders or depression and such are hereditary for the most part. However, this doesn’t mean that such ailments pass directly via a single or specific gene. If there’s a family history of mood disorders, then there’s an increased likelihood of it reappearing in relatives and future generations.

Effect On Relationships

The hallmark of any BPD patient is that he or she gets affected by conflicts with certain strong relationships. They have such histories, and most of these experiences with emotional dysregulation (like strong reactions, and variability) occur in response to interactions among the relationships.


Ask any BPD patient and he or she will tell you how inflicting self-harm is common, and that is thought of as a way to help with emotional regulation. This doesn’t imply everybody tends to feel suicidal, but that’s just a way to change their feelings. Going by reports, almost 75% of individuals affected by BPD have either cut, hit, burnt, or injured themselves somehow.

Right Diagnosis Is Of Paramount Importance

Most professional psychologists and clinical experts are aware of how they must go about when diagnosing both these mental illnesses. However, it is always advised not to take any medicine without consulting a mental health doctor. Both bipolar disorders and borderline personality disorders get very difficult to manage, but once the treatment provided is the right one, responsiveness is equally good.

Getting the first step right is the most important task towards achieving a healthy life. And if required, all queries related to both must be tackled from the start. To accelerate the process of recovery in both cases, individual support, care, and assistance must be initiated.

Besides, there are treatment options. So talking to the clinician at the beginning is of utmost importance. If all these can be clubbed together, the results will soon begin to show. But if unsure, asking for a second opinion is always welcome. Visit a licensed psychiatrist’s office to get diagnosed first. If you are hesitant, you can also opt for online counseling.

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