While you might think they don’t have a lot in common the truth is it is hard to distinguish between the two especially when self-diagnosing. For this post, I hope I can put you on the right track by telling you ten of the main difference between these two life-changing mental health disorders…
One is a Mood Disorder, The Other is a Personality Disorder
What this means is people with Bipolar will often suffer from serious changes in mood and this will often be long bouts of depression. But people with BPD have difficulty understanding their mood swings. These are often quicker changes and last much shorter times than people with Bipolar. So if those “emotional waves” are long and last days you might have bipolar, but if they are much quicker, but a lot more frequent the chances are good you suffer from BPD.
They Have Different Triggers
When I say “trigger” I mean what causes people to suffer severe depression or anxiety. With people who suffer from bipolar, these triggers will often be nothing. Their emotional states simply change for no reason at all. But people with BPD will often be triggered by something that fires a memory. A smell, a flashback, a touch, word, song, in fact just about anything can trigger someone with BPD off. Learning what those triggers are is the key to learning to live with BPD.
BPD Suffer Single Emotions Rather Than Multiple
Someone with bipolar can get severe bouts of depression as well as almost insane levels of happiness and joy at the same time! This is often why bipolar is harder to live with because there is no real way to counteract multiple emotions happening at once. But people with BPD with have much more powerful bouts of emotions, but often just a single one. So extreme love and happiness or deep bouts of depression. But almost never the same at once.
Bipolar Is Closer Linked to Family History
While both conditions have been proven to be hereditary there is a much higher chance of you suffering from bipolar if someone in your close family suffers from it. BPD is often something people develop on their own mostly thanks to traumatic events in their lives.
Bipolar is More Likely To Happen in Older People
While once again, both mental health conditions can occur at any age studies show people with bipolar tend to be older than those with BPD as BPD will affect people in their teens a lot more than later in life. Whereas bipolar is much more likely to develop in people in their middle ages.
BPD Develops Early, Bipolar Late
Put simply just about anyone at any age can develop a bipolar disorder, but people who have suffered a severe trauma (at any age) will often suffer from BPD. This isn’t the whole story as bipolar can often be brought on earlier in life due to trauma. There is also a larger percentage of people with BPD that have suffered no trauma at all, or have forgotten about it or blocked it out.
Bipolar Sleep Patterns Are More Sporadic
Are your sleep patterns sporadic in nature? If they are the chances are good you have BPD rather than bipolar as someone with bipolar will sometimes stay awake for days, if not weeks at a time. Whereas people who suffer from BPD will sleep like logs one day then be awake and unable to sleep the next.
People With BPD Sometimes Have Odd Relationships
People with BPD will often cultivate relationships repeatedly with new people but yet will often tend to stick to the same personality types as their other friends, family or acquaintances. While people with bipolar tend to have almost no interactions with people as they often just want to be alone as they never know what mood they will be in should they try and say hello. Believe me, as a sufferer with BPD myself I know it can be hard to meet new people, but most of us who suffer from BPD will admit to making judgments about people before they have even opened their mouths, thus placing them all in one group.
Chemical Treatments Are Different
People with BPD are often given pills like fluoxetine and Antipsychotics like Haldol (haloperidol). But people who suffer from bipolar will often be given antidepressant, Anticonvulsants and Anxiolytics (Anti-Anxiety) at the same time. Sadly for people with bipolar this massively ups the risk of suffering bad side-effects. But then again just about any of these pills and treatments can cause you to have bad side-effects.
Psychological Treatments Are Different
If you have BPD you will often have to go through some Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) or some other therapy. But people with bipolar will often need a specialised therapist who can help them with depression and relapse prevention, crisis planning and even early intervention for mania. When it comes to therapy treatment the two conditions couldn’t be any different.
It has to be said there are also a vast number of overlapping characteristics of both these illnesses which will often lead to people being misdiagnosed. Sadly it is not something that is black and white, greyer with black and white bits thrown in. Do you suffer from BPD or bipolar? If you do let us know your daily coping skills in the comments below and share the ways it affects your daily life.