BPD, CPTSD, Bipolar…treatment?

By Holly Counts, Psy.D.

Q: I’ve done a lot of research on BPD, PTSD, CPTSD, and Bipolar disorders and their traits. They all seem to have very similar symptoms and overlap a lot. Recently I heard that CPTSD and BPD are now considered basically the same thing. Is that true? And if it is, why is this just now coming out? Since the symptoms for all of these disorders are similar, would it be safe to say that the treatment of each disorder is similar as well? (Treatment meaning medications and therapy) If a person was to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder and then later down the road is rediagnosed with CPTSD, would the treatment stay the same? Thanks.

A: You are right in that there are several overlaps with the diagnoses you mention, but there are also differences. For PTSD and CPTSD there must be a significant trauma or ongoing traumas to have these disorders. Generally speaking there is typically early trauma and abuse or neglect to develop Borderline Personality Disorder. Bipolar Disorder has many crossover symptoms with many different diagnoses but it is a very biologically based diagnosis based on brain chemistry and genetics. The others may have genetic/biological predispositions but they are more influenced by our external environment. So having said that, you could understand that though the treatment might still entail medication and therapy, the focus of the treatment would be different. For many people with severe Bipolar Disorder, the treatment may be geared toward just improving daily functioning and maintaining stability whereas the treatment for PTSD will involve work around the original trauma. Chronic PTSD is looking more similar to BPD but then again it is still fairly new in terms of research and understanding. I hope this information helps.



Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 19 Jun 2007

APA Reference
Counts, H. (2007). BPD, CPTSD, Bipolar…treatment?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/06/19/bpd-cptsd-bipolartreatment/