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Q. How to differentiate borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder?

Answered by
Dr. Suresh Kumar G D
and medically reviewed by Dr.Nithila A
This is a premium question & answer published on Sep 21, 2019 and last reviewed on: Sep 24, 2019

Hello doctor,

Is there a definitive way to know if I have a borderline personality disorder or bipolar disorder? Two years ago, I was diagnosed with BPD, but I met with a psychiatrist who says I do not sound at all like I have BPD, but I instead sound bipolar. Is there a way to test which it is? Or is it ask me questions and I answer them?

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Hello,

Welcome to icliniq.com.

You are reporting a commonly encountered situation since BPD, and bipolar disorder can present with similar symptoms. Sometimes both the conditions can be present together as well. There is no specific test or scan or investigation to distinguish these two conditions but a thorough history and mental state examination will help to identify the correct course. So it will involve your psychiatrist asking you lots of questions to elicit your mental state, questions about your life, personal and family history which will help with making a diagnosis.

As you know, BPD is a personality disorder, and bipolar is a mood disorder. So detailed history and mental state examination can help to make the distinction. I will recommend you to keep a file of all your reports, including the previous reports related to diagnosing you with BPD and share it with your psychiatrist during your next follow-up appointment. I see that you have prescribed Lithium which is a very useful mood stabilizer. Discuss your medication response and any persistent concerns with your prescribing doctor so that he can review accordingly. I hope this helps.


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