Bipolar Illness vs. Personality Disorders

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) groups all bipolar illnesses in a mental health category called bipolar and related disorders. The main conditions in this category are bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder and cyclothymic disorder (previously known as cyclothymia). Each bipolar illness has its own distinct manifestations of depression and mania.

The APA groups all personality disorders into their own, entirely separate mental health category. There are 10 specific versions of these disorders:

  • Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder
  • Dependent personality disorder
  • Avoidant personality disorder
  • Narcissistic personality disorder
  • Histrionic personality disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Antisocial personality disorder
  • Schizotypal personality disorder
  • Schizoid personality disorder, and
  • Paranoid personality disorder

Each of these conditions has its own distinct grouping of personality trait-related problems.

Conditions that Co-Occur With Bipolar Illness

Compared to the general population, people with bipolar illness have increased chances of developing symptoms of several other mental health conditions, including:

  • Conditions classified as anxiety disorders (e.g., generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder and specific phobia)
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and
  • Substance use disorder (substance addiction and/or diagnosable substance abuse)

In addition, bipolar illness increases your chances of developing psychosis (i.e., delusional thinking and hallucinations). However, doctors view psychosis as a symptom, not as a separately diagnosable mental health condition.

Conditions That Co-Occur With Personality Disorders

Each personality disorder comes with its own risks for additional mental health issues. For example, problems that can occur in people with borderline personality disorder (the most common form of personality disorder) include:

  • Conditions classified as anxiety disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD (formerly viewed as an anxiety disorder, but now in its own separate illness category)
  • Substance use disorder
  • Major depression and other depressive disorders
  • Bulimia nervosa and other eating disorders, and
  • Other forms of personality disorder

Individuals with a personality disorder also have increased chances of developing bipolar I disorder or some other form of bipolar illness.


National Institute of Mental Health: Bipolar Disorder

Mayo Clinic: Personality Disorders

National Alliance on Mental Illness: Borderline Personality Disorder



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