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Difference Between Borderline Personality Disorder vs. Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder are different mental health conditions that are frequently confused. Because they share similar symptoms, it is not uncommon for people to wonder if there is a connection between them.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness characterized by extreme shifts or alterations in mood. It is estimated that as many as 2.5 million Americans meet the diagnostic criteria for bipolar disorder, making it a prevalent mental illness in the United States. Bipolar disorder is typically diagnosed when one reaches their early twenties; however, diagnosis may occur during childhood or in the teen years, depending on symptoms. Currently, there is no cure for bipolar disorder, but mental health treatment can minimize the impact of symptoms.

When someone struggles with bipolar disorder, they experience three primary symptoms; mania, hypomania, and depression. Mania occurs when the person goes through a period of intense emotional highs. During mania or a “manic episode,” they will experience various emotions, including excitement, impulsivity, and euphoria. They will also have excessive amounts of energy, impacting their ability to sleep or rest.

Hypomania is a symptom commonly associated with bipolar II disorder. Hypomania is similar to mania; however, symptoms and emotional highs are not as notable or severe. Depressive episodes are the exact opposite of manic episodes. During an episode of depression, feelings of deep sadness, hopelessness, loss of energy, and lack of interest in commonly enjoyed activities occur.

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Borderline personality is described as a mental health condition that impacts how someone thinks and feels about themselves and others. Personality disorders like borderline personality disorder are characterized by patterns of thought, behavior, and feelings that are often unhealthy and inflexible. Someone with a borderline personality disorder will often struggle to foster healthy relationships with others.

 They may also have difficulty managing everyday problems in ways others consider “acceptable.”

What is the Difference Between Borderline Personality Disorder vs. Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder are often confused. Both conditions share many similar symptoms leading people to wonder if there is a connection between the two. To date, science has yet to confirm a link between the two illnesses, and they remain separate diagnoses in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Several characteristics separate these conditions.

Although mood changes characterize both, the quality of mood change may be different depending on the diagnosis. Someone who struggles with bipolar disorder will often experience mania and depression. In contrast, someone with a borderline personality disorder will experience intense and overwhelming feelings of loneliness, anger, hopelessness, and feelings of emotional pain.

The mood shifts associated with borderline personality disorder are usually short-lived and connected to environmental stressors such as disagreements with a loved one. Conversely, the mood shifts linked to bipolar disorder may last days or weeks and can occur without a known cause.

What Causes Bipolar and Borderline Personality Disorder?

There is not a specific cause of borderline personality disorder. Like several similar mental health struggles, studies suggest the condition develops out of genetic factors, environmental factors, trauma, and parent/child connections during a child’s developmental stages.

Similarly, bipolar disorder does not have one specific cause. The development of bipolar disorder is linked to brain structure and functioning, family history of the illness, and genetic predisposition.

How to Find Mental Health Treatment for Bipolar and Borderline Personality Disorder

Each disorder causes different symptoms, and therefore, the treatment methods for borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder vary as well. It is important to find a treatment center where the treatment staff specializes in addressing the symptoms of your condition. It is also essential for your therapeutic team to understand the subtle yet significant differences between bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder.

Seeking help at a mental health rehab like Relevance Recovery can help you begin your journey towards putting your symptoms in the past. Although bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder are not necessarily “curable,” it is possible to learn safe and effective ways to manage symptoms, so these conditions are less impactful on your day-to-day health and happiness. Let the team at Relevance Recovery show you how as you connect with us to learn more about our programs that may support you along your journey. 

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