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    Borderline Personality Disorder vs. Bipolar Disorder

    Borderline personality and bipolar: These two disorders are often confused. They both have symptoms of impulsiveness and mood swings. But they are different disorders and have different treatments.

    Bipolar Disorder

    Also known as manic depression, bipolar disorder causes swings in mood, energy, and the ability to function throughout the day.

    Symptoms: Bipolar disorder is known for alternating periods of depression and mania that can last from days to months. During a manic, hypomanic, or depressed episode with "mixed features," symptoms of depression and mania happen at the same time.

    During times of mania, symptoms might include:

    • An excessively happy or angry, irritated mood
    • More physical and mental energy and activity than normal
    • Racing thoughts and ideas
    • Talking more and faster
    • Making big plans
    • Risk taking
    • Impulsiveness (substance abuse, sex, spending, etc.)
    • Less sleep, but no feeling of being tired

    During periods of depression, symptoms might include:

    • Drop in energy
    • Lasting sadness
    • Less activity and energy
    • Restlessness and irritability
    • Problems concentrating and making decisions
    • Worry and anxiety
    • No interest in favorite activities
    • Feelings of guilt and hopelessness; suicidal thoughts
    • Change in appetite or sleep patterns

    Treatment: Most people with bipolar disorder need lifelong treatment to keep their condition managed. This usually includes medicine -- usually mood stabilizers, and sometimes also antipsychotics or antidepressants. Therapy can also help people with bipolar disorder understand it and develop skills to handle it.

    Borderline Personality Disorder

    Borderline personality disorder involves a longstanding pattern of swings -- in moods, relationships, self-image, and behavior (in contrast to distinct episodes of mania or depression in people with bipolar disorder). People with borderline personality disorder can experience overly strong emotional responses to upsetting life events and often try to hurt themselves.  They often have chaotic relationships with people.

    People with borderline personality disorder are more likely to have other mental health problems, too. They are also more likely to have had some type of trauma as a child than people with bipolar disorder, although trauma in itself does not cause borderline personality disorder.  They often also can have problems with addictions, eating disorders, body image, and anxiety.

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