Understanding BPD and Bipolar Disorder Through Symptoms and Causes 


Borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder are two very similar yet different conditions. Research suggests that up to 40% of borderline personality disorder cases were initially misdiagnosed as bipolar disorder. BPD is relatively a “milder” form that makes people think, feel, and behave differently from normal people. Conversely, bipolar disorder, depression, and impulsive behavior can be so severe that they may even lead to hospitalization.  

Revive Research Institute is a clinical research organization that has numerous clinical trials in psychiatry. We are currently enrolling in borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. 

Symptoms of BPD 

People who have borderline personality disorder have difficulties with their self-image, moods, and behavior. These symptoms can affect daily lives and lead to impulsive actions and problems in daily life. 

Bipolar disorder has the following symptoms: 

  • Uncertainty regarding one’s place in the world 
  • Frequently shifting interests and values 
  • A tendency to perceive things as entirely positive or entirely negative 
  • Quickly changing opinions about others, such as considering someone a friend one day and an adversary the next 
  • A consistent pattern of volatile, intense relationships with family and friends, where emotions oscillate between closeness and affection to hatred and anger 
  • An unstable and distorted self-image or self-concept 
  • Efforts to avoid perceived or actual sources of abandonment, such as preemptively cutting off communication with someone in anticipation of them severing ties 
  • Engagement in self-harming behaviors like cutting, burning, or overdosing 
  • Challenges in trusting people, occasionally due to an irrational fear of their intentions 
  • Experiencing feelings of dissociation, such as feeling unreal, disconnected from one’s body, or observing oneself from an external perspective 
  • Recurring thoughts of suicide 
  • Impulsive or reckless behaviors, including risky sexual encounters, substance abuse, reckless driving, and excessive spending 
  • Periodic episodes of intense depression, anger, and anxiety 
  • Persistent feelings of emptiness 
  • Fear of being alone 

Not everyone is supposed to have all of these symptoms. Some will undergo minor symptoms, while others may face severe and frequent signs. 

Stress or emotion can also trigger a response but for others, minor events may cause a disproportionate response they generate. 

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder 

Bipolar disorder can make people have extreme mood shifts. Often, they will alternate between highs (manias) and lows (depressions) with stability intervals as well. 

It has two forms:  

  • Bipolar I: which is a more intense manic episode. 
  • Bipolar II: with less intense hypomanic episodes. 

Some of the most observed signs of mania are: 

  • An intensely heightened mood 
  • Decreased need for sleep 
  • An exaggerated sense of confidence and positivity 
  • Rapid speech, thoughts, or both 
  • Impulsive or reckless actions 
  • Grandiose notions 
  • An inflated perception of self-importance 
  • Irritability or aggression 
  • Poor decision-making 
  • In severe instances, hallucinations and delusions 

Symptoms of bipolar depression, on the other hand, include: 

  • Persistent fatigue 
  • Feelings of unworthiness and guilt 
  • Difficulty concentrating or making basic choices 
  • Unexplained bodily discomfort 
  • Prolonged periods of sorrow 
  • Unaccounted episodes of intense crying 
  • Significant alterations in sleep patterns and appetite 
  • Irritability, anger, and restlessness 
  • A sense of indifference and pessimism 
  • Excessive anxiety or apprehension 
  • Inability to derive enjoyment from former interests 
  • Social withdrawal 
  • Thoughts concerning suicide and mortality 

Not every individual experiences depression with bipolar disorder and only experiencing a manic episode qualifies one for a bipolar I disorder diagnosis. 

However, people with bipolar II disorder can experience depressive episodes of hypomania (Hypomania is a less severe form of mania). Mania can be severe to the extent that it may last for a whole week and lead to hospitalization. At other times people can experience rapid cycling of bipolar disorders and have 4 or more episodes per year. 

Are there different Causes of BPD and Bipolar? 

Many complex factors cause BPD or bipolar disorder. 

In BPD people experience disruption in emotional regulation in response to relationship interactions. On the other hand, symptoms of bipolar disorder are known to be triggered by multiple factors. These can include chemical imbalances in the brain and stressful life events. 

Borderline Personality Disorder Causes 

The exact cause of BPD is yet to be explored but currently available research says that it can happen through external traumatic factors, especially those that happen in early childhood. 

Factors contributing to borderline personality disorder (BPD) can be categorized into several key points: 

  • Early Life Experiences: Many individuals with BPD have a history of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, as well as parental neglect deeply rooted in their childhood. Additionally, parental substance abuse is considered a potential contributing factor. These adverse childhood experiences, coupled with an inability to effectively cope with them, are prevalent precursors to BPD. 
  • Genetic Predisposition: BPD has a genetic component. Individuals with a family history of BPD are at a heightened risk of developing the disorder themselves.  
  • Chemical Imbalances: Research has indicated that chemical imbalances in the brain, particularly in neurotransmitter function, such as serotonin, may be associated with BPD.  
  • Brain Structure and Function: Studies have revealed structural and functional alterations in the brains of individuals with BPD. These changes are most pronounced in areas responsible for impulse control and emotional regulation, including the amygdala, hippocampus, and orbitofrontal cortex.  

The development of borderline personality disorder (BPD) is heavily influenced by early life trauma, genetic factors, chemical imbalances, and structural brain changes, making it a condition with multiple leading factors. In such cases, borderline personality disorder clinical trials can be helpful in managing the condition. 

Bipolar Disorder Causes 

Bipolar disorder, like BPD, has multiple causes and happens through a combination of factors all contributing to it. People who have a family history with a close family member having this condition are more likely to develop this condition. Other times, some research suggests people with a certain gene are more likely to develop bipolar disorder. 

It is strongly believed that it happens because of an imbalance in chemicals that play a strong role in normal brain functioning.  


Borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder are two psychiatric conditions that result from traumatic childhood experiences and imbalances in the chemical neurotransmitters in the brain. It is important to distinguish between these two conditions to seek appropriate treatments. There are several treatment options for BPD such as psychotherapy, medications, and lifestyle adjustments. For bipolar disorder, taking medications is important, while psychotherapy and electroconvulsive therapies are also given consideration.  

Having either of these conditions can significantly impact one’s life. However, taking good care of yourself can reduce potential complications, including substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, and self-harm. If you or a loved one may be struggling with mental health challenges, consider enrolling in Revive’s psychiatry clinical trials. 

Also Read: Top 15 Vitamins & Supplements for Men in Their 30s

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