Borderline & Bipolar Personality Disorder


With overlapping symptoms, these disorders are often confused; both display tendencies of impulsive behavior and mood swings. However, other factors, such as treatment methods, are vastly different.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Also commonly known as 'manic depression,' shifts in mood, energy levels, and the ability to function daily are critical characteristics of Bipolar Disorder.


Alternating episodes of depression and mania, present from days to weeks or months, define Bipolar Disorder. However, it differs from Borderline Personality Disorder because interpersonal conflicts do not set off mood swings. In addition, the mood shifts in Borderline are only present for minutes to hours at a time. Bipolar episodes closely correlate with energy, sleep, thinking, and speech shifts.

Symptoms during manic episodes might be seen as follows:

  • An unusually happy or hostile, agitated mood
  • An abundance of physical and mental energy, more active than normal
  • Hyperactive thoughts and ideas
  • More frequent, faster speech
  • Coming up with grand plans
  • Increase in risky behavior
  • Impulsivity ( (substance abuse, risky sexual behavior, overspending, etc.)
  • Decreased sleep, but lack of sleep deprivation symptoms
  • Poor cognitive function

Symptoms during depressive episodes might be seen as follows:

  • A decrease in energy
  • Prolonged sadness
  • Lack of daily activity
  • Inability to relax, irritability
  • Poor concentration and decision making
  • Excessive anxiety, ruminating worry
  • Lack of interest in hobbies
  • Persistent guilt and helplessness, suicidal thoughts
  • Shifts in appetite and sleep schedule


Lifelong treatment is often required for most individuals with Bipolar Disorder to stabilize them. Medication is usually the solution - mood stabilizers and occasionally antipsychotics or antidepressants. Therapy can also bring awareness to the disorder and develop management skills.

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Long-term patterns of sudden shifts in mood, relationship stability, self-image, and behavior are hallmark features of Borderline Personality Disorder. Conflicts in social interactions commonly bring on these shifts. Intensified emotional reactions are common responses to disturbing life experiences and frequently turn to self-harm. Unstable relationships are also a hallmark feature.

Childhood trauma is also more prevalent in Borderline individuals than in Bipolar Personality Disorder. They also frequently struggle with addictions, eating disorders, self-image, stress, and anxiety.


Difficulty managing thoughts and emotions is part of Borderline Personality Disorder and usually involves impulsive and dangerous behavior. The primary symptoms are:

  • Desperate efforts to avoid experiencing abandonment
  • Chronically intense, shifting relationships
  • Blacking and white "all good" or "all bad" thinking towards situations and people
  • Negative self-image
  • Impulsiveness (overspending, risky sexual behavior, substance abuse, etc.)
  • Self-harm and suicidal behavior, such as cutting
  • Shifting and intense anger and depression, commonly as a result of stressful events or relationships
  • Chronically feeling emptiness
  • Poor regulation of anger and other negative emotions
  • Paranoia


Usually, long-term treatment is necessary for individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder, which primarily involves specific types of psychotherapy, including dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) or transference-focused psychotherapy (TFP), to help people control their impulses, feelings of emotional distress or anger, and emotional hypersensitivity to social interactions. In addition, medications are sometimes used to alleviate symptoms, though they are only occasionally effective and not regarded as a primary treatment method for Borderline Personality Disorder.