Do you know the difference between BPD and Bipolar Disorder? Share this Blog to Raise Awareness!
A lot of people still think (incorrectly) BPD is short for Bipolar Disorder. BPD is short for Borderline Personality Disorder. There are major differences. I and many others have both BPD and Bipolar Disorder. It is my understanding that my co-morbidities (PTSD, Bipolar II, OCD, Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder) stem from my Borderline Personality Disorder rather than vice versa.
One big difference is that Bipolar Disorder, also called Manic Depression, is a mood disorder that involves a chemical imbalance which CAN be treated with medication. While Borderline Personality Disorder IS NOT possible to be treated with only medication. BPD is one of a number of Personality Disorders, (“Personality” here meaning a long-term pattern of behavior.) It is usually treated with therapy, although medications may be used to help with the associated symptoms of co-morbidities.
Read more: Life with Borderline Personality Disorder
The main feature of Borderline Personality Disorder is a prevalent pattern of instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image, and emotions. It is a condition characterized by difficulties in regulating emotion. People who have BPD feel emotions intensely for extended periods of time and it is harder for them to return to a stable baseline after an emotionally triggering event.
They are typically more sensitive than most people to environmental circumstances and the perception of impending separation or rejection, or the loss of external structure, can lead to profound changes in self-image, affect, cognition, and behavior.
In order to be diagnosed with BPD you must have at least 5 of the 9 symptoms present:
- Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment by friends and family
- Unstable personal relationships that alternate between idealization and devaluation. This is also sometimes known as “splitting”
- Distorted and unstable self-image, which affects moods, values, opinions, goals, and relationships
- Impulsive behaviors that can have dangerous outcomes, such as excessive spending, unsafe sex, substance abuse or reckless driving
- Self-harming behavior including suicidal threats or attempts
- Periods of intense depressed mood, irritability or anxiety lasting a few hours to a few days
- Chronic feelings of boredom or emptiness
- Inappropriate, intense or uncontrollable anger—often followed by shame and guilt
- Dissociative feelings—disconnecting from your thoughts or sense of identity or “out of body” type of feelings—and stress-related paranoid thoughts (Severe cases of stress can also lead to brief psychotic episodes)
Read more: Bipolar Disorder: A Battle From Within
Here are some of the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder II (The type I was diagnosed with):
- Flying suddenly from one idea to the next
- Having exaggerated self-confidence
- Rapid “pressured” and loud speech
- Diminished ability to think or concentrate, with irritability or indecisiveness, nearly every day
- Increased energy, with hyperactivity and psychomotor agitation.
- Depressed mood with markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day
- Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain (e.g., a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month) or decrease/increase in appetite nearly every day
- Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day
- Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day
- Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, a suicide attempt, or a specific plan for committing suicide
As you can see there are many similarities in symptoms but not everyone who has Bipolar Disorder has BPD. In people who ONLY have Bipolar Disorder, these symptoms can be eliminated or greatly diminished with medication. With BPD, the symptoms are basically so ingrained that you have to learn how to manage them (which I am told is possible though I can’t see how yet).
I feel that when people don’t know about my disorder or think I just have Bipolar, they’re not seeing clearly who I am. This is a very tough disorder to live with. I feel like those who don’t know the difference might be judging my recovery on a completely different type of disorder. Like I did before I knew I had BPD. I didn’t understand why the antidepressant and anti-anxiety meds never helped in the long run. It was because I was battling a monster I didn’t know, with the wrong weapons.