The Difference Between Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder

What is bipolar disorder?

What is borderline personality disorder?

Can I have both at the same time? How are they different, and how are they alike?

Let’s dive in, shall we? Understanding both of these mental health disorders will help you on your journey to recognizing if you have one, seeking the appropriate treatment, or properly caring for a loved one who is also suffering.

Borderline Personality Disorder

BPD, or borderline personality disorder, involves self-image issues, drastic and unpredictable mood swings and behaviors, and impulsive decision making. Someone struggling with BPD may find it difficult to maintain healthy relationships or keep a steady job.

It’s important to note that not everyone diagnosed with BPD will have the same symptoms or behaviors. And though many symptoms of BPD are similar to those of bipolar disorder, there are a few unique only to BPD.

The range of potential symptoms include…

  • An “all or nothing” type of attitude
  • Self-image issues
  • Lack of confidence, security, or self-worth
  • Constant change in moral belief systems
  • Self-harm and/or suicide attempt
  • Trust and abandonment issues
  • Unsafe activities that are often viewed as dangerous
  • Distorted sense of reality
  • Unstable relationships
  • Fear of loneliness or spending time alone
  • Episodes of anger
  • Shift of attention from interest to interest very quickly
  • Emotional problems
  • Inconsistent opinions and points of view
  • Experiencing anxiety and/or depression

Treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder

Currently, there are no FDA-approved medications for borderline personality disorder, so other forms of treatment like therapy must be sought out. If desired, an individual could try a combination of anxiety or depression medication with therapy.

Group therapy is extremely effective in treating BPD because group therapy typically favors both cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)  and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) in treatment.

These methods can also be used in one-on-one therapy, but in group therapy, individuals have the opportunity to learn from each other and interact with each other, which only helps with the process.

DBT is one of those treatments unique to borderline personality disorder. It focuses heavily on self-acceptance and being aware of one’s emotions and surroundings. An individual learns tools to self-soothe and ground themselves. If practiced regularly, DBT significantly lowers the risk of self-harm.

CBT is a technique in which an individual takes a closer look at their behaviors and beliefs about the world. They are encouraged to challenge any beliefs that don’t serve them, or are causing them to suffer, which leads to positive life changes. CBT is also known to lower anxiety and balance mood swings.

Grouport’s borderline personality disorder online group meets once a week, every week! Check out the ways in which Grouport’s therapists tackle BPD here.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is commonly described as a condition which makes an individual experience periods of extreme highs and extreme lows.

A bipolar diagnosis can be either I or II, with bipolar I patients experiencing manic episodes and bipolar II patients experiencing depressive episodes.

The range of potential symptoms can usually be categorized by either depressive or manic episodes…

Depressive Episode

  • Low energy levels
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Deep sadness that seems to never end
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Fatigue and lack of sleep
  • A constant sense of despair and hopelessness
  • Lack of interest in hobbies
  • Issues with appetite
  • Phases of restlessness
  • Guilty feelings

Manic Episode

  • Impulsive and reckless
  • Stream of racing thoughts
  • Very talkative and fast-talking
  • Heightened levels of energy and activity
  • Extreme sadness and/or happiness
  • Grandiose plans and ideas
  • Lack of judgement
  • Inflated self-confidence

Treatment for Bipolar Disorder

If you are suffering from bipolar disorder, you have many options for treatment like therapy, changes to your habits and lifestyle, and medication.

There are antipsychotics, anticonvulsants, and mood stabilizers available to those diagnosed.

CBT, as used in borderline personality disorder, is a common practice for managing bipolar episodes because it can reduce depression and anxiety.

Self-awareness and check-ins are also techniques used - like recording a calming phone message to yourself that you can play during a future episode to instruct yourself to calm yourself down.

The Main Differences

Now that we’ve seen some of the symptoms of both borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder overlap, let’s explore the differences between the two.

Mood swings that a bipolar patient may experience are brought on randomly and without explanation. There is “no rhyme or reason” with bipolar disorder. This differs from the mood changes of a BPD patient because those are usually correlated with relationships and real issues the individual is experiencing and struggling to deal with.

And while episodes of a BPD person can last minutes or several hours, the episodes of a bipolar person can last weeks or even months. This individual’s entire life is turned upside down for as long as they are in a manic or depressive state and it can be very self-destructive.

If you or a loved one suffers from either disorder, there are so many accessible and affordable ways to get supportive, professional treatment. Here at Grouport, we want you to be able to live the fullest life possible, no matter what obstacles stand in the way.

Click here to contact us if you’re still not sure which disorder you’re struggling with, or reach out to us anyways if you have any questions or concerns regarding group therapy.

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