Bipolar is an episodic mood disorder. When a person is not a mood swing such as mania or depression, the symptoms are not present.
BPD is a pervasive illness that is considered a part of a person’s personality. It is not episodic.
Definition of BPD
People with BPD often feel misunderstood, alone, empty and hopeless. They're typically full of self-hate and self-loathing. They may be fully aware that their behavior is destructive, but feel unable to change it. Poor impulse control may lead to problems with gambling, driving or even the law. They may find that many areas of their lives are affected, including social relationships, work or school. Those with the illness often show strong changes in moods, but these often seem calculated as they can be turned off and on. (Mayo Clinic, 2011)
Sheila: “I feel that I’m reeled in by my husband's charm and then punched in the face (not literally, but definitely emotionally). His charisma is often so amazing. No one believed me it was happening, people would say he was a great guy, but it seems he only saved it for me behind closed doors."
And yet, those with the illness are in great pain and are not simply acting out. It’s a true illness.
How is Bipolar Different?
Bipolar mood swings sit on top of a person and are not part of their personality. The mania, depression and anxiety start and end at a specific time. It’s a very serious illness and like BPD can cause great disruption in family, work and financial relationships, but it does come and go.
Bipolar is treated with medications such and a strong management plan. The treatment outcome for BPD is complicated as the drugs on the market address only some of the symptoms such as depression and anxiety, but there is no specific drug for the illness.
What is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy? (DBT)
Many of those with BPD have had great success with DBP. There are many books on the topic of DBT as well as therapists and centers that specialize in the therapy. DBT is for family members as well.
Can a Person Have a Bipolar and BPD Diagnosis?
Yes! If you or your loved one has both, make sure you work with a health care professional who understands how they interact. There is hope for the treatment of both illnesses.