Borderline Personality & Bipolar Disorder

March 23, 2016

There is often a lot of confusion between these two disorders and on this page I will try to explain some of the main differences and we’ll also look at the connection between borderline disorder and depression.

There is no substitute for proper diagnosis from a doctor so please after reading this if you have any doubts or think you may suffer from borderline personality disorder go see your doctor.

Bipolar Disorder

The effects of both bipolar and borderline personality disorder can be serious so please get professional help if you believe you may suffer from either of these conditions. There are many problems with diagnosis of bipolar disorder and other disorders because some of the symptoms are shared and can be confused. Approximately 70% of people who have these types of depressive disorders are not correctly diagnosed in the first place and many remain so.

I have a brief description of bipolar depression on this page.

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Like Bipolar disorder one of the main symptoms is violent and unpredictable mood swings. These mood swings cause the patients emotional state to be very unbalanced and as a result the following is a short list of possible consequences of this:

  • Low self image
  • Poor relationships with others
  • Feelings of being abandoned
  • Swings in regard for themselves and others ranging from admiration to very poor regard, judgements become unstable
  • Many sufferers end up self harming or even attempting suicide

The seriousness of the symptoms and, in particular, the consequences of suffering from this disorder often cause people suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder to become hospitalized.

It can be seen that those suffering can be a threat to themselves and others.

And what causes these problems? It is believed that there may be three causes – genetic, brain

Why Are the Two Disorders Often Confused?

Given the symptoms briefly listed they are broadly similar to those for Bipolar Disorder which is also a problem consisting of violent mood swings. Both disorders may require hospitalization although Borderline Personality Disorder is not as common as Bipolar Disorder and the second results in more hospitalizations. As has been said both disorders involve depression as you would expect from mood swings and the lowering of self image and problems with relationships.

The similarities between the two disorders are:

  • Mood swings which can happen quite quickly even within minutes and range from feeling elated to quite destressed and down
  • Rash behaviour results from the feelings that result from the mood swings and can include aggressive behaviour, spending sprees, wild sexual behaviour and driving without any care.
  • Alcohol and Drug abuse. The reason why this happens is because these substances are seen as a way to cope with the symptoms and problems caused by the two disorders but of course this is not at all helpful and often makes the problems much worse.

What Is the Difference Between These Two Disorders?

Let’s try to see if there are some differences which might help us understand the difference between these two serious disorders.


  • A mental disorder
  • Moods may last for days or weeks before any change
  • Involves feelings of extreme happiness or elation (also known as mania)
  • Reasons for mood change is unknown and appears to have no external cause

Borderline Personality:

  • An emotional disorder
  • Moods often last for only hours and not longer than a day
  • No feelings of extreme happiness or elation
  • External cause of mood changes and usually a result of a stressful event like an argument or something similar.
  • Emotional feelings of abandonment and loneliness are more common than for Bipolar sufferers

People suffering from borderline personality disorder are very likely to have other mental health issues as well. Another difference is that there is more likely to have been an emotional or physical trauma in childhood than for bipolar sufferers.

Please note that it is possible to suffer from both Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder though this is not so common.

The Connection Between Depression and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

happy and sad masks

There is a very high, (of the order of 80% according to one study), percentage of patients who suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder and who also suffer from Major depression.

When someone has BPD they suffer from depression in slightly different way to kost who do not have it. The difference is in the emotional feelings they have. BPD sufferers feel anger, loneliness and emptiness as their main emotions. Treatments for depression do not seem to work with these sufferers as well as they do with other patients.

Borderline Personality Disorder sufferers benefit most from a treatment of the symptoms. once the symptoms are treated and improve the depression lifts. This seems to suggest that the symptoms are a cause of the resulting depression.

So what should you do if you think you have Borderline Personality Disorder? In short, please get help as soon as you can.

You can find out much more about Borderline Personality Disorder from Wikipedia

Bipolar Disorder and Depression

This disorder is a brain disorder and is also called manic-depressive disorder. The disorder seems to involve not only mood swings but changes in energy levels.

Bipolar disorder destroys lives but can be treated. It often starts in the late teens and it usually occurs before age 25.

The fact that it involves changing moods and lows and highs accompanied with drastic increases and falls in energy levels, means that relationships and productivity in all areas of life can be negatively affected.

There are different categories of bipolar disorder and these define the length of manic and depressive episodes. Manic is the extreme “up” of a mood and depressive is obviously the negative “down”. These mood swings can vary in length but Biploar Disorder I means that manic episodes last for about a week and depressive episodes can last for about two weeks. Bipolar Disorder II is defined as less serious manic episodes and more frequent mood swings.

This disorder normally affects someone for their whole life but can be treated with a combination of therapy and medication.