Is Bipolar a Personality Disorder? BPD Vs Bipolar

Is Bipolar a Personality Disorder? BPD Vs Bipolar

Written by :

Arooj Anjum

Arooj Anjum

Biomedical Engineer

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Borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder are both mental health disorders or mental illnesses that consist of drastic mood swings and require mental health professionals for the right treatment options. Although they share some common factors, they are entirely different illnesses. And if you are wondering, is bipolar a personality disorder? The answer is NO!

 

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Bipolar Vs. Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

 

Often, people confuse between the two because of the similarities, but to differentiate, know that BPD is a personality disorder, while bipolar is a mood disorder. Previously, bipolar disorder was known as a manic-depressive disorder because of the extreme highs and lows of episodes of mania and depression, respectively. These episodes last for weeks and months at a stretch. Remember, getting an accurate diagnosis is important to finding the right treatment plan, as both have different treatment methods.

 

Classifying the mental health disorder correctly is essential for the proper treatment. There are different personality disorders, such as;

  1. Borderline personality disorder
  2. Antisocial personality disorder
  3. Histrionic personality disorder

People often think bipolar is a personality disorder when it is not. Bipolar is a mood disorder; let’s look into further details of bipolar disorder.

Is Bipolar a Personality Disorder?

 

No, bipolar condition affects the mood, energy levels, and ability to function of an individual. People with bipolar usually have sudden mood changes, which only a healthcare provider can diagnose. It is not classified as a personality disorder. It is an intense emotional phase that lasts a few days or weeks. In short, mood disorders can be further classified as;

1. Maniac disorder includes hypomanic episodes where an individual shows high energy levels and unpredictable behavior.

2. Depressive episodes/manic depression During this phase, the individual has low levels of energy and feels hopeless and down.

Seek immediate help or visit a healthcare professional if the mood disorder lasts a long time. Constant mood shifts or fluctuations hinder the ability of an individual to function correctly. People with bipolar disorder have difficulty in holding a job, remaining in school, and building relationships. However, help is available, and individuals with bipolar disorder can now lead an everyday fulfilling life.

Personality vs. Mood Disorders- Key Differences

 

As mentioned earlier. Bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder are completely different. Let’s look at the key differences between the two.

1. Mood Disorders

 

Both personality and mood disorders are mental health conditions. Mood disorders are further divided into bipolar disorders and depressive disorders. Mood disorders are commonly known as affective disorders, as these health conditions seriously affect the emotional state of a person. An individual suffering from mood disorder has extreme highs and extreme lows. Bipolar affects the mood, ability to function, and overall energy levels.

 

Mood disorders are further classified into;

  • Bipolar I and II disorder
  • Cyclothymic disorder

The first two are types of bipolar disorder

  • Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder- DMDD
  • Major depressive disorder MDD
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder and
  • Persistent depressive disorder PDD

Mood disorders can be managed with medications along with online bipolar therapy. Usually, mood disorders are short-term. Rarely do they last for a long time.

 

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

 

Look out for the following symptoms of bipolar disorder.

  • Mood episodes that last a week or so
  • Mood swings
  • Restlessness
  • Racing mind
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Increase in activity and energy
  • Risky behavior 
  • And psychosis (during manic episodes)

Causes of Bipolar Disorder

 

1. Stress & Trauma- both are interconnected. Stress plays a massive role in developing bipolar disorder. 

2. Genetics- bipolar is genetically inherited and runs in the family. 

3. Brain Differences- Some studies show that an individual with bipolar disorder has a different structure of the brain. 

2. Personality Disorders

 

In contrast to mood disorders, personality disorders are longer lasting. People who have borderline personality disorder find it challenging to regulate their emotions, affecting their lives overall.

 

Personality disorder also affects the emotional state of our minds. It involves feelings, behaviors, and thoughts. These actions affect how the individual;

  • Think about themselves
  • Respond to situations
  • Control their behaviors and 
  • Relate to others.

An individual with BPD has the following patterns;

  • Poor self-image
  • Low self-esteem
  • Impulsive behaviors
  • Severe emotions like anger
  • And unstable relations with others.

Similarities in Symptoms of Bipolar and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

 

Sometimes, BPD and bipolar have similar symptoms. Therefore, it is often misdiagnosed.

  • Impulsive behavior
  • Sudden mood swings
  • Unwanted anger
  • Chances of self-harm or suicidal thoughts.

How to Make the Correct Diagnosis?

 

The healthcare professional will use a questionnaire and ask the following

  • To begin with, a mental health care provider will ask a series of questions, including symptoms, duration, and seriousness of the episode.
  • Next, they will take the medical history of the family and check whether anyone has any other mental health issues.

1. Bipolar I diagnosis- the individual had one full-fledged episode of mania for almost a week and was hospitalized as a result

2. Bipolar II diagnosis- an individual with bipolar II has major depressive episodes, better known as hypomania.

To differentiate it from borderline, the healthcare professional will ask about;

  • Sleep
  • Self-harm
  • Cycling mood time
  • mania
  • Unstable relationships 

Additional Tips to Distinguish Bipolar and BPD

  • History of trauma
  • Family history

Treatment for BPD and Bipolar Disorder

 

Finding the correct treatment can take time. There is no FDA-approved medication for BPD, although some medicines can help with the symptoms.

 

Usually, psychotherapy is recommended for individuals with BPD. It involves talk therapy. Some examples are;

  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT): 
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): 

As for bipolar, doctors usually combine psychotherapy with medicines. You will likely be asked for lifestyle changes.

  • Medications that are known as mood stabilizers
  • Psychotherapy like CBT
  • Self Management
  • Yoga, exercise, and healthy eating habits

The Bottom Line

 

As we have seen, bipolar disorder is a mood disorder with similar symptoms as borderline personality disorder. People often confuse the two. Treatment plans for both are available. Suffering from either of them can impact your life dramatically. However, the symptoms can be reduced with the correct diagnosis and treatment plan. So, if you or a loved one have bipolar disorder symptoms, visit a healthcare professional for a complete evaluation and correct diagnosis. Help is around the corner; do not suffer in silence. Living with a mental health condition can be challenging, so do not hesitate to contact us and get an appointment with a well-qualified mental health practitioner. Therapy Fleet is your on-the-go mental healthcare centre.

 

Medical Disclaimer:

 

At TherapyFleet, we strive to enhance the quality of life for those dealing with mental health issues. Our licensed medical professionals meticulously research, edit, and review all content before publication. Nonetheless, this information should not replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For medical guidance, please consult your physician or reach out to TherapyFleet’s qualified staff.

 

Embrace your journey with compassion; every step forward is a triumph in your personal growth.

FAQs

1. Is bipolar a personality disorder?

 

No, bipolar is a mood disorder containing mood swings now and then. There will be periods of depression and periods of mania.

2. Is bipolar disorder severe?

 

Although not serious, individuals with bipolar disorder might need a treatment plan for their lifetime. There will be days when there are no symptoms and then days when the person is a wreck.

3. How does bipolar disorder worsen?

 

People with bipolar disorder are always on the verge of a mental breakdown and find it difficult to manage stressful situations. Different situations trigger their episodes of depression and mania. Some common triggers are;

Divorce

Death of a family member

Illness

Financial instability

4. What personality is bipolar disorder?

 

Bipolar disorder is also known as major depressive disorder and is categorized as mood disorder. An individual with bipolar disorder has depressive episodes and manic episodes, which are extreme lows and extreme highs.

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