Bipolar Disorder


Co-occurring Disorders


Cutting • SuicideAnxietyADHDBipolar DisorderDepression


Bipolar Disorder is a mental health condition that is characterized by mood swings, including emotional highs known as mania or hypomania and lows, depression.

Manic Episodes: Manic episodes include periods of irritable and elevated mood with symptoms that include:

  • Inflated self-esteem

  • Excessive talking and distractibility

  • Excessive pursuit of pleasurable activities

Hypomanic Episodes: Hypomanic episodes consist of four days of mild or more moderate positive thinking and mood and energy.

Depressive Episodes: In contrast, major depressive episodes are marked by symptoms that are debilitating enough to cause difficulty in day to day activities and relationship.

For diagnostic purposes, clinicians will categorize Bipolar Disorder in one of two ways :

  • Bipolar I: Consists of at least one manic episode and may be preceded or followed by episodes of hypomania or a major depressive episode

  • Bipolar II: At least one major depressive episode and at least one hypomanic episode, but the person has never experienced a manic episode

Bipolar Disorder is present in around 10-percent of those with Borderline Disorder. People with Borderline Disorder are often misdiagnosed with Bipolar Disorder because of the similar symptoms of mood changes and therefore may receive improper advice and treatment plans. Many of the symptoms of co-occurring disorders of Bipolar Disorder are also the symptoms of those with Borderline Disorder, making its diagnosis and treatment even more complex (e.g., anxiety disorders, ADHD, eating disorders, and substance abuse disorders). You and your clinician should be aware of the symptoms and the development path of true Bipolar Disorders, especially Bipolar II, which due to its hypomanic symptoms can be easily missed. Treatments usually include mood stabilizers and antidepressant when recommended.

Because Borderline Disorder can be stigmatizing (especially when put on a person’s medical record), many prefer to tell their clients they have “bipolar disorder.” Some clinicians are not sure of the difference between the two since they both have to do with moods. But it’s quite easy to tell the difference.

Borderline Disorder

  • Feelings: Feelings change very quickly, even from minute to minute

  • All Feelings: All types of emotions vary, from jealousy to anger, to happy, to lonely

  • Feelings Have a Cause: There is a reason you can point to as to why you are jealous, angry, happy, or lonely.


Bipolar Disorder

  • Depression and Mania: Depression and mania go up and down over months—or at the very minimum, weeks

  • Depression and Mania Only. In depression, you don’t find any joy in things that used to make you happy. You don’t feel like getting out of bed. When you’re manic, you feel incredibly hyper and may stay up all night with big plans.

  • A Cause for the Depression and Mania cannot be easily determined.

The medications used for Borderline Disorder are different than the ones used for Bipolar Disorder. If you feel you have been misdiagnosed (this often happens to men) go back to your clinician and ask questions or seek a second opinion. Some clinicians don’t disclose the BP diagnosis. If you want to know, ask.


Sources Cited:

  • “Bipolar Disorder.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 31 Jan. 2018,

  • American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5. American Psychiatric Publishing, 2014.

  • Friedel, Robert O. “Borderline Personality Disorder Demystified |.” Borderline Personality Disorder Demystified, 10 Feb. 2018,