What Is the Difference Between BPD and Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder (BPD) are frequently mistaken for one another. Both of these mental illnesses come with symptoms like impulsivity and mood instability. However, they are separate conditions that require different treatments.

Diagnosis sometimes takes time as the two disorders can appear very similar on the surface. The main distinction between the two is bipolar disorder is classified as a mood disorder, whereas BPD is a personality disorder. These classifications give them distinct traits and treatment needs.

Personality disorders are defined by anomalies in the ways a person thinks, feels, and acts. These are inconsistent with social norms, which can interfere with daily function and cause discomfort. On the other hand, mood disorders are characterized by clear and noticeable changes in emotions. They feature intense lows, referred to as depressive episodes, and extreme highs, referred to as hypomanic or manic episodes. 

What Are the Differences?

Because BPD and bipolar disorder are so similar at a glance, differentiating between the two can be challenging. The occurrence of mania or hypomania in bipolar cases differs considerably from that of BPD. Other characteristics that help distinguish BPD from bipolar disorder are poor and rocky relationships, unstable self-image, and, most notably, the span in which dramatic mood shifts occur. 

In BPD, these mood shifts might last only a few hours and generally no more than a few days. This results in rapid mood swings. On the contrary, bipolar disorder consists of a recurring pattern of manic or hypomanic and depressive episodes. Manic episodes typically last a minimum of seven days, and depressive episodes usually last two weeks or more. This pattern involves similarly extreme shifts in mood, though they are not nearly as frequent as those seen in BPD. 

What Are the Similarities?

While duration is the biggest differentiator, shifts in moods are a primary similarity between BPD and bipolar disorder. This mood instability is referred to as affective instability. Without treatment, the symptoms of both disorders result in difficulty managing moods and emotions consistently. 

Impulsivity is another challenging similarity. This behavior consists of acting without restraint or forethought of consequences. It is a symptom of both disorders. These behaviors are frequently ill-planned, risky, and may have unintended consequences.

Distractibility and irritability are also both found among BPD and bipolar patients. Irritability can quickly lead to anger when ignored. Additionally, distractibility makes staying focused quite difficult when either disorder is left untreated. Studies also show that both disorders feature racing thoughts.

A trusted mental health care professional is needed to provide a proper diagnosis. BPD and bipolar disorder can appear to be so similar but treatment is unique to each. Determining the correct disorder is imperative for receiving the correct care for each individual’s needs.

How Is BPD Treated?

Long-term psychotherapy is the go-to treatment for BPD. Psychotherapy can be performed in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Depending on the severity level of the disorder, inpatient or residential treatment may be needed.

Inpatient treatment is often the best option for BPD. When researching these services, individuals can find that medical specialists provide care around the clock. Such an intensive program has extensive advantages. These include a welcoming and homey setting, constant access to quality assistance, as well as camaraderie. This makes it possible for clients to connect with and socialize with other people facing BPD. 

Alternative options include outpatient programs. These programs are more accommodating to people’s schedules while still being highly regarded for their efficacy in the healing process. Whatever path an individual may choose, assistance is accessible, and a better and happier future is available.

How Is Bipolar Disorder Treated?

The most typical treatment for bipolar disorder is mood stabilizers. These manage manic/hypomanic symptoms during episodes. Along with mood stabilizers, antidepressants are frequently used to treat depressive episodes, which can become medically concerning. This combination of medications is common for treating bipolar disorder. When necessary, antipsychotic and anti-anxiety drugs have also proven beneficial.

Therapy works well in conjunction with medication to manage bipolar disorder. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most popular method used. This type of therapy combines the therapeutic philosophies of cognitive therapy and behavioral therapy. The focus in CBT is on recognizing issues and determining the most effective solutions. This aids in brain training so individuals can deal with and handle problems as they come up. 

Should I Pursue Treatment?

If untreated, the severity of BPD and bipolar disorder can negatively impact a person’s everyday life and mental health. Reach out for treatment as soon as possible if you or a loved one is exhibiting any of the aforementioned symptoms. By choosing treatment, you are taking a positive and proactive step to better your mental health and your future. With proper guidance, you will be able to manage the effects of your disorder and achieve a sense of emotional balance in life. Reach out today for a proper diagnosis and to explore medication and therapy options.

Reach out for help if you believe you have BPD or bipolar disorder. If neglected, mental health issues can become destructive and affect your daily life. Call Alter Behavioral Health right away, and we’ll help you get an accurate diagnosis and begin the appropriate course of treatment. You don’t have to go through this uncertainty by yourself. We can assist you in finding balance so you can enjoy the emotional freedom you need. You truly deserve happiness and it is just waiting for you to reach out and claim it as your own. Contact us now at (866) 691-4386 for further details and to begin the journey to joy that you’ve been waiting for.