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How to Identify Bipolar and Borderline Personality Disorders

Although some of the symptoms of bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder are similar, there are noticeable differences between the two conditions.

1) Onset of symptoms
For someone with BPD, the symptoms of the condition come out as part of their basic personality. This includes difficulty interacting with other people and the world in general, usually starting in adolescence or younger.

This differs from bipolar disorder, in which the individual baseline for both emotion and behavior are normal. Mood swings connected with bipolar episodes are noticeably different from the person’s normal self.

2) Timing of symptoms
In borderline personality disorder, events that would normally not be significant motivators often cause excessively large or painful reactions. Mood changes can occur from minute to minute or hour to hour, and often have a notable trigger such as frustration or a fear of being abandoned.

Bipolar symptoms differ in that mood swings often last for days or weeks rather than cycling many times in one day. Changes in mood may have an apparent trigger or may have no obvious cause.

3) Type of symptoms

People with BPD tend toward negative emotions including feeling irritable, angry, sad or empty. Euphoric or excessively happy feelings are not common for people with this disorder.

This differs from people with bipolar disorder who swing between depression and mania. Although mania can include extreme anger or irritability, it is more likely to bring feelings of euphoria or grand plans and ideas.

Both bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder typically require lifelong treatment, which may include medication and therapy to manage symptoms.

Obtaining an accurate diagnosis is a crucial step in determining which medications and other treatments will be most effective for each individual patient.

If you have questions about bipolar disorder or borderline personality disorder, talk to your health care professional.


WebMD. Borderline Personality Disorder vs. Bipolar Disorder. Web. February 18, 2015.

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