Main Difference – Bipolar vs Borderline Personality Disorder
Bipolar disorder and Borderline personality disorder are two psychiatric conditions which are often confused by many people due to some similar features they share. But since the methods of medical intervention vary according to their individual pathology, it is highly important to know how they differ from each other. The main difference between Bipolar and Borderline Personality Disorder is that borderline personality disorder is strongly associated with life events and triggered by various happenings in one’s routine whereas bipolar disease is not.
What is Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar Disorder, also known as Manic depression, is a condition which is defined as the change of emotional or behavioral patterns of an individual in contrast to his normal or typical baseline personality. It is characterized by periods of severe depression called Depressive phase and periods of excessive excitement and happiness called Manic phase. These episodes usually last for days to weeks. Although the exact etiology is not very clear, main causative agents have been identified to be stress, childhood trauma, abuse and genetic factors. Patients who are suffering from this will have fluctuating episodes of depression, anger and negative emotions about life, sometimes associated with suicidal attempts, when severe. When they reach the manic phase, behaviors and emotions will turn out to be very energetic and impulsive, where they will act super excited about the day to day activities.
Bipolar disorder is categorized into two sub types namely, bipolar I and bipolar II, based on their severity. Bipolar I refers to individuals who have only experienced a few hypomanic episodes, but not a single complete manic phase where bipolar II refers to several severe manic as well as depressive episodes.
What is Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline Personality Disorder is a cluster B type personality disorder earlier known as emotionally unstable personality disorder. It is defined as a dramatic or unpredictable emotional instability characterized by rapidly fluctuating sense of self and unstable personal relationships with impulsive actions. Patients with this condition may present with ‘splitting’ thinking pattern or black and white thinking (personality traits either all good or all bad), an intense fear of isolation, feelings of self-harm, rage, depression, anxiety, shallow emotions with powerful intensity and unstable relationships.
Sufferers will have episodes of extensive emotions with frequent mood changes. They will also engage in various reckless activities such as binge eating, promiscuity, excessive alcohol consumption or speed and reckless driving. It is somewhat difficult to treat these individuals since they will not be willing to accept that they are ill. However, the mostly used modality of treatment is known as Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).
Difference Between Bipolar and Borderline Personality Disorder
Even though the two conditions, Bipolar Disorder (or Manic depression) and Borderline Personality Disorder, appear very similar to each other at a glance, there are 3 key factors which have been identified in order to distinguish one from the other.
Bipolar Disorder is a condition which is defined as the change of emotional or behavioral patterns of an individual in contrast to his normal or typical baseline personality.
Borderline Personality Disorder is defined as a dramatic or unpredictable emotional instability characterized by rapidly fluctuating sense of self and unstable personal relationships with impulsive actions.
Both patients will go through periods of high excitement and severe depression.
Bipolar Disorder: The two phases are known as manic and depressive episodes.
Borderline Personality Disorder: The two phases are known as splitting or black and white thinking episodes. They are comparatively more rapid (multiple cycles in a single day) than in Bipolar disorder.
Bipolar Disorder: This condition is not much related to life events.
Borderline Personality Disorder: This is strongly associated with life events and triggered by various happenings in one’s routine.
Bipolar Disorder: Bipolar Disorder has at least one episode of mania or hypomania, mostly associated with euphoria and depression to be diagnosed as bipolar.
Borderline Personality Disorder: Borderline Personality Disorder is more related to mood changes owned by inherited personality, including irritability, sadness, feelings of emptiness and anxiety.
Common symptoms will also include those of a generalized illness, such as loss of weight, loss of appetite, low energy, and fatigability.
Bipolar Disorder: Impulsive nature is only associated with the context of manic or depressive phases. If an individual has traits of impulsivity in his baseline personality, that will only get worse during the times of mood changes.
Borderline Personality Disorder: Impulsivity is a chronic presenting complaint in patients.
In a nutshell, the differentiation of these two disorders can be very challenging yet, important mostly in the aspects of making a correct diagnosis for treatment purposes.
By United States National Institutes of Health (Public Domain) via
“Dissociative identity disorder” By 04Mukti – Own work via