Depression

Differentiating bipolar disorder from borderline personality disorder

Differentiating bipolar disorder from borderline personality disorder

Borderline personality disorder is a condition in which people can very easily become angry and upset in response to stresses — especially stresses involving relationships. Borderline personality disorder also can involve periods of feeling suicidal, not so much out of clinical depression but as an expression of distress. Moodswings, and trouble managing extreme mood states, are hallmark features of borderline personality disorder, although sudden or abrupt moodswings are not part of the definition of bipolar disorder.

Differentiating bipolar disorder from borderline personality disorder

Borderline personality disorder is a condition in which people can very easily become angry and upset in response to stresses — especially stresses involving relationships. Borderline personality disorder also can involve periods of feeling suicidal, not so much out of clinical depression but as an expression of distress. Moodswings, and trouble managing extreme mood states, are hallmark features of borderline personality disorder, although sudden or abrupt moodswings are not part of the definition of bipolar disorder. People with borderline personality disorder may feel inclined to injure or cut themselves as a way of relieving distress, although self-injurying behavior is not part of bipolar disorder. People with borderline personality disorder often see other people or situations as “all good” or “all bad” rather than in the middle. They may also have a tendency to project their own emotions on to other people, rather than acknowledge them as their own (eg, anger) and may therefore often feel victimized or taken advantage of. The term “borderline” refers to the “border” between reality and psychosis, meaning that under times of stress, people with borderline personality disorder may become paranoid or unduly suspicious or even hallucinate. An unfortunate aspect of borderline personality disorder involves longstanding chaos and stormy patterns in relationships. It can be very disabling. Specific forms of psychotherapy have been developed that are the most effective known form of treatment. Medicines in general have only modest value.

About 10% of people with borderline personality disorder may also have bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder involves periods of intense energy, overactivity, getting by with very little sleep and not feeling tired the next day, and extreme productivity. Mood problems are only one aspect of bipolar disorder, and some researchers think that the high energy states of bipolar disorder are more important and specific to making the diagnosis than mood, since mood problems can occur from many other causes.

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