Borderline Personality Disorder and Bipolar Disorder; Distinguishing Between the Two

Borderline Personality Disorder and Bipolar Disorder; Distinguishing Between the Two

By: Stacey Rodriguez

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Bipolar Disorder (BD) have many overlapping symptoms, causing them to manifest similarly. BPD is characterized by a pattern of unstable emotion, behavior and self-image. Similarly, BD is marked by unusual and extreme shifts in energy and mood.

Mood swings in the context of BPD are more frequent, shorter lived, and triggered by situational factors; they are largely a product of a distorted perception of reality fueled by dysfunctional core beliefs. Contrastingly, manic and depressive episodes experienced by those with BD are not directly induced by external stimuli, but rather a result of chemical imbalances. These episodes last for a minimum of 7 days and can be intersected by symptom free periods. While impulsivity is a key marker in both, it is important to note that in bipolar disorder it occurs most frequently during periods of mania, whereas it is unrelated to mania in BPD.

A common correlation between the two disorders is family history. Though, history of trauma seems to be a distinguishing factor as it is most particular to BPD, whereas genetics seem to play a larger part in BP.

Though BPD and BD are distinctly separate, in some cases, they can co-occur. While being informed on the nature of these two disorders is beneficial, it is essential for an individual to seek help from a mental health specialist if either seem to be present.

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy for Bipolar Disorder or Borderline Personality Disorder, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit


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