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What are the differences between bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder?

Posted on 08-10-15 in Mental Health

What are the differences between bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder?

While bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder share some similar symptoms, they are completely separate illnesses that require different types of mental health treatment. Distinguishing between the two can be very difficult and often requires an extensive evaluation, such as questioning the patient about their medical history and their background of symptoms to gain a better grasp on the severity and nature of their condition.

Dr. Prakash Masand, the CEO of Global Medical Evaluation, noted in an interview with Medical Daily, “Missing the diagnosis of bipolar illness is all too common in clinical practice with devastating consequences for patients and families.” A study published in the journal Psychiatry found that almost 69 percent of patients with bipolar disorder are initially misdiagnosed and upwards of one-third of them remain misdiagnosed for a prolonged period of time after their initial diagnosis. Unfortunately, many bipolar patients are initially misdiagnosed with depression and prescribed antidepressants, which can induce episodes of hypomania.

Bipolar disorder

The main factor that differentiates bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder is that bipolar disorder entails extreme highs and lows in mood and behavior. These highs are considered manic episodes, in which patients will be extremely energetic, excitable and can even appear completely delusional and grandiose. The lows they experience can be a very dark place for these patients. They can be depressed for days and lack the ability to be productive and carry on with their daily obligations. These highs and lows are completely opposite ends of the spectrum in behavior. One day, the bipolar person may act manic — even seeming “high” — only to crash the next day, feeling very depressed and helpless.

In contrast to the drastically alternating and sporadic symptoms of bipolar disorder, the symptoms of borderline personality disorder are consistent and last for long periods of time. Russ Federman, a psychotherapist specializing in bipolar disorder, writes: “While there is some overlap here with bipolar disorder in the sense that interpersonal stresses may activate a shift in mood phase, bipolar individuals will also tell you that there are times when the onset of their symptoms, whether elevated or depressed, will seem to come out of nowhere.”

Borderline personality disorder

Borderline personality disorder is a mental health disorder that is characterized by severe emotional instability. Patients with this condition have a very difficult time controlling how they process and express emotion, leading to mood swings, unstable relationships, impulsivity and hostile behavior.

This impulsive behavior can occur in the form of reckless spending, bouts of extreme depression, anger and agitation for days at a time. These patients typically have a fear of abandonment by friends and family and a low self-esteem and self-worth, which can manifest itself in suicidal and self-destructive behavior. People with borderline personality disorder also have high rates of co-occurring conditions like anxiety disorders, depression, substance abuse, eating disorders and self-harming behavior.

Seeking proper treatment

The sooner patients who are suspected of having either of these conditions seek help and get a proper diagnosis, the faster they will be capable of receiving effective means of mental health treatment. Misdiagnosis can lead to a severe worsening of symptoms and complications in patient treatment. A proper diagnosis can make all the difference in someone’s life when they are struggling with these conditions that deal with such types of behavior.

A proper diagnosis will ensure that the patient receives the help they need and deserve, thus allowing them to live a prosperous and fruitful life. Sovereign Health Group is among the leading mental health treatment providers in the country. We offer inpatient and outpatient treatment options for patients that are struggling with mental illnesses, drug addiction and dual diagnosis. If you know somebody who is struggling with a mental illness and is in need of mental health treatment, please do not hesitate to call. You may reach us at 888-530-4614.

Written by Benjamin Creekmore, Sovereign Health Group writer