Some symptoms of BPD can be very similar to other mental health problems. Depending on your mood and what's going on in your life when you speak to your mental health professional, they might find it hard to understand which diagnosis best fits your experiences. This page looks at similarities between BPD and:
What can I do if I disagree with my diagnosis?
If you're worried that your diagnosis doesn't fit the way you feel, it's important to discuss it with a mental health professional so you can make sure you're getting the right treatment to help you. See our pages on seeking help for a mental health problem for information on how to make sure your voice is heard, and what you can do if you're not happy with your doctor.
[I have the experience of] having the wrong diagnosis for nearly 30 years and feeling like a freak, because when reading up about the diagnosis I was given there was no mention of [my other symptoms].
Some of the symptoms of bipolar disorder are very similar to BPD, such as:
- mood swings between extreme emotions
- impulsive or risky behaviour
- suicidal thoughts and self-harming behaviour
Because of this mental health professionals might find it hard to work out if you are experiencing BPD or bipolar disorder, and you might be offered treatment for bipolar disorder. (See our pages on bipolar disorder for more information about this diagnosis.)
Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Complex PTSD is a form of post-traumatic stress disorder caused by experiencing a traumatic situation for a long time, such as ongoing domestic violence or child abuse. Some of the symptoms are very similar to BPD and include:
- difficulty controlling anger
- problems controlling your emotions and getting easily upset
- feelings of guilt and worthlessness
- problems with relationships
- feeling cut off and disconnected from other people
(See our pages on PTSD for more information on general treatments and support for PTSD, which you might find helpful for complex PTSD.)
Because feelings of low mood or suicidal thoughts might be the reason you first speak to your doctor about your mental health, your GP might offer you treatment for depression without realising that you are also experiencing other symptoms, or referring you to a specialist. (See our pages on depression for more information about this diagnosis.)
I was always treated as having depression but I think I knew that wasn't quite right. Obviously the depression itself is a massive part of it but I know many others [with depression] and they didn't seem to relate to the thoughts in my head.
If you experience BPD, you might sometimes experience symptoms of psychosis, such as seeing, hearing or believing things that other people don't, or experiencing paranoia. This might only last for a short time while you are very stressed, but it can feel very alarming to you and people around you.
Mental health professionals might sometimes focus on offering you treatment for psychosis, rather than exploring whether these experiences might be a symptom of BPD. (See our pages on psychosis and paranoia for more information about these diagnoses.)
Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD)
If you're a man experiencing symptoms similar to BPD, you are more likely to get a diagnosis of ASPD than a woman experiencing the same symptoms. This could be because you or your doctors are focusing on your symptoms of anger and impulsive behaviour. (See our pages on personality disorders for more information about this diagnosis).
This information was published in May 2015. We will revise it in 2018.