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BPD and Bipolar disorder?

Im a 14 year old girl that self harms and has severe depression, and occasional suicidal thoughts. I haven't been diagnosed with depression, but i do know i have it. And i am concerned about the fact i have some symptoms of bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder, i did take some online tests for them and both of them said i may have them/one of them, so it gave me an idea if its possible that i do have it. And i was wondering how i could find out, would i have to go to my doctor? and how would they diagnose it if i do have them/one?. My other question is how would a doctor diagnose depression?.

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Hi Jodiecath, Have you talked

Hi Jodiecath,

Have you talked to anyone about your depressive symptoms, suicidal thoughts, or self harm? All of those things are serious, so I appreciate that you reached out here but hope you do let your parents (or a trusted adult who can help you get into treatment) know how much you are struggling.

As for borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder. I am very wary of online tests - I would take most of them with a grain of salt. That doesn't mean you don't have one (or even both) disorders, but don't assume any diagnosis until you have been evaluated by an experienced mental health professional.

One of the biggest problems (when it comes to diagnosis) with these two particular disorders is that both involve "mood swings", but the mood swings that are part of bipolar disorder are very different than those for someone with borderline personality. A diagnosis of bipolar disorder requires at least one episode of "mania" or "hypomania" (which is far more than just being "up" for a few hours or a couple of days). A lot of people think they have a history of mania or hypomania, but really don't meet the full criteria for either.

I've seen many people who have borderline personality disorder (and other disorders) get mistakenly diagnosed as bipolar (occasionally the reverse happens too, but not nearly as often in my experience). Sadly, this leads to treatment that is ineffective and often involves medications with strong side effects.

So, a thorough evaluation is crucial - and in your case I strongly recommend seeing a mental health professional who has a lot of experience to help reduce the chance of a misdiagnosis (by someone inexperienced).

Self harm is a more likely indicator of borderline personality than bipolar disorder (but it doesn't necessarily mean you're borderline). Also, many borderlines struggle with symptoms of depression - often chronically. And, there is often (although not always) a history of trauma, abuse, and / or a very chaotic or unpredictable home environment.

Bipolar disorder tends to run in families (but again, not always and also it doesn't always get diagnosed).

Diagnoses are generally made after a thorough evaluation, which usually consists of a "diagnostic interview". You (and probably your parents, since you're a minor) would be asked a lot of questions about your history and symptoms. Some cases are more straightforward than others. It's possible to have symptoms of more than one disorder but not quite meet the criteria for any specific disorder.

I hope this helps answer your questions. At 14, you have your whole life ahead of you. Addressing these issues now can help reduce the negative impact they may have on your future. I hope you are able to start working with a therapist soon, regardless of your diagnosis. The most important thing is that you start learning ways to manage negative emotions and self-destructive thoughts and behaviors.

Dr. Lane


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