Borderline Personality Disorder

BPD:  a personality disorder is “an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior” that meets the following criteria:


  • deviates from the expectations of the individual’s culture (e.g., is not what would be normally expected from a person in their particular culture)

  • is pervasive and inflexible (e.g., affects all aspects of a person’s life and is not easily modified depending on the situation)

  • has an onset in adolescence or early adulthood

  • is stable over time

  • leads to impairment or distress

problems in interpersonal relationships, self-image, emotions, behaviors, and thinking.


-Borderline personality disorder accounts for only about twenty percent of hospitalizations

-bipolar accounts for about fifty percent of hospitalizations.

-Borderline personality disorder is most common in young women

- bipolar is equally common in both men and women, as well as all age groups.

-both experience mood swings that may involve violent outbursts, depression, or anxiety.


1. People with BPD cycle much more quickly, often several times a day.

2. The moods in people with BPD are more dependent, either positively or negatively, on what's going on in their life at the moment. Anything that might smack of abandonment (however far fetched) is a major trigger.

3. In people with BPD, the mood swings are more distinct. Linehan says that while people with bipolar disorder swing between all-¬encompassing periods of mania and major depression, the mood swings typical in BPD are more specific. She says, "You have fear going up and down, sadness going up and down, anger up and down, disgust up and down, and love up and down."


Biologically, individuals with BPD are more likely to have abnormalities in the size of the hippocampus, in the size and functioning of the amygdala, and in the functioning of the frontal lobes


BPD is associated with specific problems in interpersonal relationships, self-image, emotions, behaviors, and thinking.


  • Relationships

  • People with BPD tend to have intense relationships characterized by a lot of conflict, arguments, and break-ups. BPD is also associated with strong sensitivity to abandonment, which includes intense fear of being abandoned by loved ones and attempts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.

  • Self-image

  • Individuals with BPD have difficulties related to the stability of their sense of self. They report many "ups and downs" in how they feel about themselves. One moment they may feel good about themselves, but the next they may feel they are bad or even evil.

  • Emotions

  • Emotional instability is a key feature of BPD. Individuals with BPD may say that they feel as if they are on an emotional roller coaster, with very quick shifts in mood (for example, going from feeling okay to feeling extremely down or blue within a few minutes). BPD is also associated with feelings of intense anger and emptiness.

  • Behaviors

  • BPD is associated with a tendency to engage in risky and impulsive behaviors, such as going on shopping sprees, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol or abusing drugs, engaging in promiscuous sex, or binge eating. In addition, people with BPD are more prone to engage in self-harming behaviors, such as cutting, or to attempt suicide.

  • Stress-Related Changes in Thinking

  • Under conditions of stress, people with BPD may experience changes in thinking, including paranoid thoughts (for example, thoughts that others may be trying to cause them harm), or dissociation (feeling spaced out or numb).


  • many people diagnosed with BPD have experienced childhood abuse or neglect, or were separated from their caregivers at an early age. However, not all people with BPD had one of these childhood experiences (and, many people who have had these experiences do not have BPD).

There is also evidence of genetic contributions and differences in brain structure and function in individuals with BPD.



Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, sometimes called manic depression, causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression). 

Common signs and symptoms of mania include:

  • Feeling unusually “high” and optimistic OR extremely irritable

  • Unrealistic, grandiose beliefs about one’s abilities or powers

  • Sleeping very little, but feeling extremely energetic

  • Talking so rapidly that others can’t keep up

  • Racing thoughts; jumping quickly from one idea to the next

  • Highly distractible, unable to concentrate

  • Impaired judgment and impulsiveness

  • Acting recklessly without thinking about the consequences

  • Delusions and hallucinations (in severe cases)

A person must have had a manic (or hypomanic) episode to be diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder,  although the most common mood-state in people with this disorder is by far, Depression.