Study Shows Borderline Personality Disorder and Bipolar Disorder Are Equally Debilitating

Source: Adam Penney/Flickr

Source: Adam Penney/Flickr

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) causes deterioration in people’s psychiatric and physical health similar to those experienced by individuals with bipolar disorder, according to a new report published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

“Despite the clinical and public health significance of both of these disorders, it sometimes seems as if BPD lives in the shadow of bipolar disorder,” said researcher Mark Zimmerman, M.D., director of outpatient psychiatry at Rhode Island Hospital.

“Bipolar disorder is a widely researched, well-publicized, well-funded topic. By contrast, BPD is seldom discussed and it is not included in the Global Burden of Disease study, a comprehensive registry that quantifies diseases by cost, mortality, geography, risk, and other factors.”

BPD affects approximately 1.6 percent of the U.S. population, while 2.6 percent of Americans are diagnosed with bipolar disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

“The level of psychosocial morbidity and suicidality associated with BPD is as great, or greater, than that experienced by patients with bipolar disorder,” said Zimmerman. “From a public health perspective, improving the detection and treatment of BPD is as imperative as diagnosing and treating bipolar disorders.”

Individuals with BPD often experience difficulty controlling their emotions and thoughts, as well as engaging in impulsive and reckless behavior which also negatively affects their relationships with others.

Bipolar disorder is characterized by prolonged periods of extreme moods, while BPD is more likely to cause intense bouts of extreme emotion that are short in duration.

According to the study, both conditions are equally debilitating.

Both conditions can seem similar at first glance. Individuals with BPD are likely to experience depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, eating disorders, and suicidal behaviors, similar to patients with bipolar disorder. The heightened chance of these other mental illnesses that often have symptoms overlapping with BPD makes it especially difficult to diagnose as well.

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