BPD vs Bipolar. Symptoms, Causes & Treatments

In the realm of mental health, distinguishing between Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Bipolar Disorder can be challenging due to the overlapping symptoms and shared characteristics. However, a comprehensive understanding of these conditions is crucial to provide effective treatment and support. This article explores the distinctive symptoms, potential causes, and available treatment options for BPD and Bipolar Disorder, shedding light on the complexities surrounding these psychiatric conditions. By gaining insights into their unique aspects, individuals and their loved ones can navigate the journey towards improved mental well-being with greater clarity and awareness.

BPD Vs Bipolar Main Differences

BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) and Bipolar Disorder are distinct psychiatric conditions with several key differences:

  • Mood patterns: In Bipolar Disorder, individuals experience distinct mood episodes that alternate between extreme highs (manic episodes) and extreme lows (depressive episodes). In contrast, BPD is characterized by chronic emotional instability, where mood swings can occur frequently and rapidly, often triggered by external events or perceived threats.
  • Duration of mood states: Bipolar episodes typically lasts for days, weeks, or even months, while BPD mood swings tend to be shorter, ranging from a few hours to a few days.
  • Nature of emotional instability: BPD is characterized by intense and fluctuating emotions, including anger, anxiety, and depression. Interpersonal conflicts or feelings of abandonment may trigger these emotions. In Bipolar Disorder, the emotional extremes are distinct, with manic episodes characterized by elevated mood, increased energy, and impulsivity. In contrast, depressive episodes involve persistent sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest.
  • Relationship patterns: Individuals with BPD often struggle with unstable and tumultuous relationships, marked by idealization and devaluation. They may exhibit intense fear of abandonment and engage in impulsive behaviors to avoid real or imagined abandonment. In Bipolar Disorder, relationship patterns are not typically characterized by the same intense instability and fear of abandonment.
  • Self-identity and self-image: BPD often involves a pervasive sense of self-identity disturbance, with individuals experiencing uncertainty and an unstable self-image. Bipolar Disorder, on the other hand, does not typically involve significant disturbances in self-identity or self-image.
  • Impulsivity: Impulsive behaviors, such as substance abuse, self-harm, or risky sexual behavior, are more commonly associated with BPD. While individuals with Bipolar Disorder may also engage in impulsive actions during manic episodes, these behaviors are not driven by the same fear of abandonment or intense emotional instability seen in BPD.

The main difference between bipolar and BPD lies in the mood episodes and emotional instability experienced by individuals with each condition.

Borderline Personality Disorder Vs Bipolar Symptoms

BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) Symptoms

  • Intense and unstable relationships: Individuals with BPD often have turbulent and volatile relationships, marked by the idealization and devaluation of others.
  • Emotional instability: Frequent and intense mood swings, lasting from a few hours to a few days, characterized by feelings of emptiness, anger, anxiety, or depression.
  • Identity disturbance: A persistent sense of self-identity confusion, uncertainty, and unstable self-image.
  • Impulsive behavior: Engaging in risky behaviors such as substance abuse, self-harm, binge eating, reckless driving, or excessive spending.
  • Fear of abandonment: A strong fear of rejection or abandonment often leads to frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined separation.
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness: A pervasive sense of inner emptiness and dissatisfaction.
  • Intense and difficulty controlling anger: Frequent displays of anger, irritability, and difficulty managing and expressing emotions appropriately.

Bipolar Disorder Symptoms

  • Mood episodes: Bipolar Disorder is characterized by manic episodes and depressive episodes.
    • Manic episodes: Elevated mood, increased energy, racing thoughts, grandiose beliefs, decreased need for sleep, excessive talking, and engaging in high-risk activities.
    • Depressive episodes: Persistent sadness, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, difficulty concentrating, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, and thoughts of death or suicide.
  • Fluctuating energy levels: Individuals with bipolar disorder experience periods of high energy during manic episodes and low energy during depressive episodes.
  • Impaired judgment: Impulsive and reckless behavior during manic episodes, such as excessive spending, engaging in risky sexual activities, or making poor decisions.
  • Rapid speech and racing thoughts: Individuals may experience an increase in the speed of speech and a rapid flow of thoughts during manic episodes.
  • Difficulty with concentration and decision-making: Decreased ability to focus, make decisions, or complete tasks during depressive episodes.
  • Sleep disturbances: Insomnia or hypersomnia (excessive sleepiness) during different disorder phases.
  • Changes in appetite: Significant weight loss or gain during manic or depressive episodes.

These symptoms can vary in severity and duration for each individual, and a proper diagnosis from a mental health professional is essential for accurate identification and treatment of BPD or Bipolar Disorder.

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BPD vs Bipolar Disorder Facts

Bipolar Disorder

  • Mood Episodes: Characterized by distinct episodes of mania/hypomania and depression.
  • Duration: Mood episodes can last for days, weeks, or months.
  • Triggers: Episodes can occur without external triggers, and mood shifts are often unrelated to specific events.
  • Self-Image: Individuals typically have a stable sense of self and identity.
  • Impulsivity: Impulsive behaviors may occur during manic episodes.
  • Treatment: Mood-stabilizing medications are often prescribed, along with psychotherapy.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

  • Mood Fluctuations: Rapid and reactive mood swings often trigger interpersonal stressors.
  • Duration: Mood shifts are shorter, lasting hours to a few days.
  • Triggers: Mood swings are closely tied to interpersonal relationships and are triggered by abandonment, rejection, or conflict.
  • Self-Image: Individuals struggle with a shifting self-image and an unstable identity.
  • Impulsivity: Impulsive and self-destructive behaviors, such as self-harm or substance abuse, are more common.
  • Treatment: Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and other forms of psychotherapy are often used, along with medication for co-occurring conditions.

BPD Treatments

BPD was initially believed to be incurable. However, this isn’t the case because we know that BPD can be effectively treated. Therapy helps many BPD patients who are distressed to feel better.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Psychologist Marsha Linehan developed dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT). This treatment teaches you to deal with challenging and overwhelming emotions. The most popular method of treating BPD is DBT. Each skill set aids in the reduction of BPD symptoms.

Dialectical behavioral therapy imparts four key skill sets to its patients:

  • Interpersonal effectiveness.
  • Emotional regulation.
  • Distress tolerance.
  • Mindfulness.

Mentalization-Based Therapy

Mentalization-based therapy helps you develop an awareness of your inner state. In mentalization-based treatment, fostering empathy for other people’s experiences is a key goal.

According to research published in 2018, this therapy may dramatically lessen the severity of BPD symptoms and co-existing diseases while enhancing the quality of life. However, the authors point out that additional study is still required.


No single medication is effective for BPD, but medications may relieve some symptoms.

As an illustration, medicines may support mood stabilization. Discuss your symptoms with a doctor if you believe medication could help you.

BPD Vs Bipolar Statistics

Bipolar disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) are distinct mental health disorders, although they may share some symptoms. While bipolar disorder affects approximately 2.4% of the global population, BPD is estimated to impact around 1-2% of individuals worldwide. The onset of bipolar disorder is typically in late adolescence or early adulthood, with an average age of around 25. In contrast, BPD usually manifests in early adulthood, with an average age of onset at 18.

Gender differences exist between the two conditions. Bipolar disorder affects men and women equally, while BPD is more commonly diagnosed in women, with a ratio of about 3:1 (women to men). Both disorders carry a significant risk of suicide, with individuals with bipolar disorder having a higher risk (15-20%) than those with BPD (10%). Additionally, bipolar disorder and BPD often co-occur with other mental health issues, underscoring the importance of accurate diagnosis and comprehensive treatment.


The global prevalence of the bipolar disorder

Source: CDC

25 years

Bipolar disorder typically emerges in late adolescence or early adulthood

Source: NIMH


BPD is more commonly diagnosed in females

Source: NIH

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BPD And Bipolar Test

Welcome to the BPD vs Bipolar Test! This test is designed to help you gain a preliminary understanding of whether you may exhibit symptoms more aligned with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) or Bipolar Disorder. Please keep in mind that this test is not a substitute for professional evaluation and should be used for informational purposes only.

*By taking this free quiz, you may obtain your results online and in your email box. You’ll have the opportunity to opt-in to learn more about your symptoms, talk to a mental health consultant and join our newsletter. Rest assured your information is private and confidential. Results, consultations and assessment are provided without any cost to you and without any obligation. If you do not wish to provide your contact information, you may omit it during your quiz. Thank you for opting in and participating. To you best of health.

1. Name:

2. Phone:

3. Do you experience intense and rapidly shifting emotions that can change quickly in response to external events?
4. Do you often have periods of elevated mood, increased energy, and racing thoughts that last for days or weeks?
5. Are your mood swings primarily triggered by external circumstances or events?
6. Do you frequently struggle with a fluctuating self-image or sense of self?
7. Have you ever experienced episodes of extreme euphoria or intense irritability, accompanied by impulsive behaviors?
8. Do your mood episodes (elevated or depressed) typically last for shorter durations, such as hours or a few days?
9. Are your mood shifts less influenced by internal factors and more by external events or situations?
10. Do you exhibit impulsive behaviors, such as excessive spending, risky sexual encounters, or substance abuse?
11. Are your relationships often marked by intense and unstable emotional reactions?
12. Have you experienced distinct periods of depression that last for weeks or longer?


The exact causes of Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) are not fully understood, but several factors have been implicated in their development.
The exact causes of Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) are not fully understood, but several factors have been implicated in their development.

Bipolar Vs BPD Causes

The exact causes of Bipolar vs BPD are not fully understood, but several factors have been implicated in their development. It’s important to note that both disorders are complex and likely result from a combination of genetic, biological, and environmental factors. Here’s an overview of potential causes for each condition:

Bipolar Disorder Causes

  • Genetic factors: There is evidence of a genetic predisposition for bipolar disorder, as the condition often runs in families. However, specific genes and inheritance patterns have not been fully identified.
  • Neurochemical imbalances: Bipolar disorder is associated with abnormalities in brain chemicals, such as neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which play a role in regulating mood and emotions.
  • Brain structure and function: Some studies suggest that individuals with bipolar disorder may have structural and functional differences in certain brain regions involved in emotional regulation, decision-making, and reward processing.
  • Hormonal imbalances: Fluctuations in hormones, particularly during periods such as puberty or postpartum, may contribute to the onset or exacerbation of bipolar disorder.
  • Environmental triggers: Stressful life events, major life changes, substance abuse, or disruptions in sleep patterns can trigger the onset of bipolar episodes in susceptible individuals.

BPD Causes

  • Genetic and familial factors: There is evidence of a genetic component in BPD, with a higher prevalence among individuals with a family history of BPD or other mental health conditions.
  • Childhood trauma and adverse experiences: Many individuals diagnosed with BPD have experienced significant childhood trauma, such as physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, neglect, or early loss of a caregiver. Adverse experiences in childhood can disrupt normal emotional and psychological development.
  • Invalidating environment: Growing up in an environment where emotions are invalidated, dismissed, or ignored can contribute to the development of BPD. Lack of validation and unstable relationships during formative years may shape the individual’s emotional regulation abilities and self-perception.
  • Neurobiological factors: Some research suggests that BPD may involve alterations in brain structures and neural pathways associated with emotion regulation, impulse control, and social cognition.
  • Co-occurring mental health conditions: BPD commonly co-occurs with other mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, or eating disorders, indicating shared underlying factors or vulnerabilities.

It is important to emphasize that these factors are not definitive causes but potential influences on developing Bipolar Disorder and BPD. Further research is necessary to gain a deeper understanding of the complex interplay between genetics, biology, and environment in the onset and progression of these disorders.

Bipolar 2 Vs BPD

Bipolar 2 and BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) are two distinct mental health conditions:

  • Bipolar 2: Bipolar 2 is a subtype of Bipolar Disorder characterized by recurring episodes of major depression and hypomania. Hypomania is a milder form of mania where individuals experience elevated mood, increased energy, and heightened productivity. Unlike Bipolar 1, individuals with Bipolar 2 do not experience full-blown manic episodes. Instead, they alternate between depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes.
  • BPD: Borderline Personality Disorder is characterized by emotional dysregulation, unstable self-image, intense and unstable relationships, impulsivity, and a fear of abandonment. Individuals with BPD often experience rapid mood swings, have difficulty managing emotions, and exhibit impulsive and self-destructive behaviors. They may also have a chronic sense of emptiness and engage in self-harming behaviors.

While both conditions can involve mood instability, they have distinct diagnostic criteria and differ in the nature and duration of mood episodes. Bipolar 2 focuses on major depressive and hypomanic episodes, while BPD revolves around chronic emotional dysregulation and intense interpersonal difficulties. Proper diagnosis by a mental health professional is crucial for accurate identification and tailored treatment approaches.

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Bipolar Vs Borderline Personality Disorder Treatment

Bipolar Disorder Treatment:

  • Medication: Mood stabilizers, anticonvulsants, and atypical antipsychotics.
  • Psychotherapy: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), interpersonal and social rhythm therapy, and family-focused therapy.
  • Lifestyle modifications: Regular sleep schedule, exercise, stress management, and avoiding substance abuse.
  • Support groups and education.

Borderline Personality Disorder Treatment:

  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).
  • Medication for specific symptoms or comorbid conditions.
  • Schema-Focused Therapy and Mentalization-Based Therapy.
  • Supportive therapy and family involvement.
Both Bipolar Disorder Vs BPD may require a combination of medication, psychotherapy, and lifestyle modifications. Tailored treatment plans guided by mental health professionals are crucial for effective management.
Both Bipolar Disorder Vs BPD may require a combination of medication, psychotherapy, and lifestyle modifications. Tailored treatment plans guided by mental health professionals are crucial for effective management.

Both BPD and Bipolar may require medication, psychotherapy, and lifestyle modifications. Tailored treatment plans guided by mental health professionals are crucial for effective management.

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We Level Up Fort Lauderdale, Florida, BPD and Bipolar Disorder Center

At We Level Up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a center specializing in Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Bipolar Disorder, offers a comprehensive range of services to provide effective care and support for individuals with these conditions. These services may include:

  1. Diagnostic Assessment: Conduct thorough evaluations and assessments to accurately diagnose and understand the specific symptoms, severity, and patterns of BPD and Bipolar Disorder in individuals seeking help.
  2. Individual Therapy: Providing specialized one-on-one therapy sessions with qualified professionals experienced in treating BPD and Bipolar Disorder. Therapeutic approaches like Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), or psychoeducation may address these conditions’ unique challenges and symptoms.
  3. Medication Management: Collaborating with psychiatrists or medical professionals to provide medication management services. This may involve prescribing, monitoring, and adjusting medications to stabilize mood, manage symptoms, and support overall mental well-being.
  4. Group Therapy: Offering specific sessions tailored for individuals with BPD and Bipolar Disorder. Group therapy can provide a supportive environment where individuals can learn from others, share experiences, develop coping skills, and build community.
  5. Psychoeducation: Providing educational resources and information about BPD and Bipolar Disorder to individuals and their families. Psychoeducation helps enhance understanding, increase awareness of symptoms and triggers, and empower individuals to participate in their treatment journey actively.
  6. Skills Training: Offering specialized skills training programs, such as Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skills training, which focuses on developing emotional regulation, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, and mindfulness skills.
  1. Can You Have BPD And Bipolar?

    Yes, an individual can have BPD and Bipolar Disorder. This is comorbidity, where two or more mental health conditions coexist in the same person. Both disorders can complicate diagnosis and treatment, requiring a mental health professional’s careful assessment to differentiate and address each condition’s unique symptoms.

  2. Which Is Worse Bipolar Or BPD?

    It is not accurate or fair to categorize one condition as inherently worse than the other. BPD and Bipolar Disorder are serious mental health conditions that can significantly impact a person’s life. However, the specific experiences and severity of symptoms can vary among individuals. It is important to seek proper diagnosis and treatment for either condition to address the unique challenges and improve overall well-being.

  3. Do I Have BPD Or Bipolar?

    It can be challenging to determine whether symptoms align more with BPD or Bipolar Disorder, as some symptoms overlap. Seeking a professional evaluation from a mental health practitioner, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist, is essential for an accurate diagnosis. They will conduct a comprehensive assessment, including interviews and possibly psychological testing, to gather information about your symptoms, personal history, and functioning. This evaluation will help determine whether you meet the diagnostic criteria for BPD, Bipolar Disorder, or both, enabling the development of an appropriate treatment plan tailored to your needs.

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