Being diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder can cause any number of different reactions in people, ranging from fear and shame to relief and hope. Being diagnosed with two psychiatric disorders, however, can feel completely overwhelming.
The co-occurring diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Bipolar Disorder is not unusual, since many of the symptoms for both disorders present in similar ways. It is also not entirely uncommon for BPD patients to be misdiagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and vice versa due to these overlapping symptoms. With rapid cycling Bipolar Disorder, especially, symptoms can manifest in strikingly similar ways to those in people with BPD.
While Bipolar Disorder is considered a mood disorder and BPD a personality disorder, they do share traits that can be effectively managed through the same kind of therapeutic approach. Rather than getting “hung up on” the stigma of being diagnosed with two different psychiatric disorders, patients should focus on the good news: with proper medications and therapy, symptoms of both BPD and Bipolar Disorder can recede significantly, allowing for a better quality of life.
Common Traits of BPD and Bipolar Include:
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
- Episodes of impulsive, destructive behavior (risky sex, reckless driving, or compulsive shopping)
- Depression and self-hatred
- Irritability and angry outbursts
- Unstable personal relationships
- Substance abuse
- Feelings of emptiness or worthlessness
How to Tell People
With a diagnosis of both Borderline Personality Disorder and Bipolar Disorder, it may be difficult to openly discuss these diagnoses with the important people in your life. Although many people have a basic understanding of Bipolar Disorder, few have heard of BPD or are familiar with its common traits.
If you feel uncomfortable revealing too much to people, it is understandable. You may want to use the simplest explanation possible and tell people you have trouble regulating your emotions.
On the other hand, if you feel secure in your relationships with family and loved ones, it is always a good thing to have their support and keep them informed about your mental health treatment and progress. People can often surprise you by being more accepting and compassionate than you give them credit for.
BPD and Bipolar Disorder Treatment
If you are suffering from both Borderline Personality Disorder and Bipolar Disorder, you will likely need to seek mental health treatment to find relief from your symptoms and make a complete recovery. Even if you are diagnosed with two mental health disorders, you will be able to find a residential, day, or outpatient treatment center that allows you to address both disorders.
Both Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder treatment use a combination of medication to reduce symptoms that may interfere with the patient’s ability to focus on treatment (such as depression or anxiety) and various therapies, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).
Commitment to the process of recovery from Bipolar Disorder and BPD is truly the most important factor in alleviating symptoms and moving forward. When you decide to put treatment and recovery first in your life, you will see results.