When you have been diagnosed as bipolar but you don't have the extreme manic episodes, but very severe depression, and 10 different mood swings each day, could this possibly be borderline personality disorder. I also don't know who i am anymore all i know is I want the right diagnosis. What is the difference?


Hi ConfusedButterfly...

Borderline and Bipolar are closely related. Depression and mood swings are high in bipolar, as a person can be manic (one pole) and depressive (the other polarity) the next.

This switching back and forth is called rapid cycling.

Bipolar has three different forms:

Bipolar I--where the person experiences one or more manic episodes with or without major depressive episodes.

Bipolar II

Bipolar II--where the person has hypomanic episodes as well as at least one major depressive episode. Hypomanic episodes do not go to the extremes of mania (i.e. do not cause social or occupational impairment, and without psychotic features), and a history of at least one major depressive episode. Bipolar II is much more difficult to diagnose, since the hypomanic episodes may simply appear as a period of successful high productivity and is reported less frequently than a distressing depression.


Cyclothymia--involves presence or history of hypomanic episodes with periods of depression that do not meet criteria for major depressive episodes.

Borderline Personality Disorder:

It involves this Mnemonic (using the word PRAISE)

A commonly used mnemonic to remember some features of borderline personality disorder is PRAISE:

P - Paranoid ideas

R - Relationship instability

A - Angry outbursts, affective instability, abandonment fears

I - Impulsive behavior, identity disturbance

S - Suicidal behavior

E - Emptiness

Read this information from wikipedia: Differential diagnosis

Borderline personality disorder often co-occurs with mood disorders. Some features of borderline personality disorder may overlap with those of mood disorders, complicating the differential diagnostic assessment.

Both diagnoses involve symptoms commonly known as "mood swings". In bipolar disorder, the term refers to the marked lability and reactivity of mood defined as emotional dysregulation. The behavior is typically in response to external psychosocial and intrapsychic stressors, and may arise or subside, or both, suddenly and dramatically and last for seconds, minutes, hours or days.

Bipolar depression is generally more pervasive with sleep and appetite disturbances, as well as a marked nonreactivity of mood, whereas mood with respect to borderline personality and co-occurring dysthymia remains markedly reactive and sleep disturbance not acute.

The relationship between bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder has been debated. Some hold that the latter represents a subthreshold form of affective disorder,while others maintain the distinctness between the disorders, noting they often co-occur.

Some findings suggest that BPD may lie on a bipolar spectrum, with a number of points of phenomenological and biological overlap between the affective lability criterion of borderline personality disorder and the extremely rapid cycling bipolar disorders. Some findings suggest that the DSM-IV BPD diagnosis mixes up two sets of unrelated items—an affective instability dimension related to Bipolar-II, and an impulsivity dimension not related to Bipolar-II.

Hope this helps!


I had a therapist who knew me quite well, and was 100% sure I have bipolar disorder. A doc I saw in the hospital tried to tell me I had borderline personality disorder. I was SO confused. When I brought this up to the therapist, he said in no way did I have BPD and I was bipolar all the way.

I asked him how he was so certain, and his basic explanation was I do not have trouble holding an interpersonal relationship. It may have turmoil due to my mood swings (rapid cycle bipolar), however, I can maintain the relationship. With BPD, there is a problem interacting with others because your personality, not just your mood, can shift rapidly.

My suggestion would be to find a qualified and experiences therapist and see that him/her for at least a few sessions and see what they think. I believe the therapist that has spent time talking with you in depth will have a better idea than the pdoc who doesn't spend the time going into your personal life and relationships.