Doctors and clinicians recognize different mental health disorders that people may seek help with each day. Depression and anxiety are the most common, affecting millions of Americans each year. However, some mental health issues can be under-recognized and, therefore, go diagnosed and untreated.
Your doctors and clinicians can better identify the issues you face, so it’s important to talk with them about all of your symptoms and continuously work with them as you go through treatment options.
Borderline personality disorder and schizoaffective disorder are two notoriously challenging conditions to diagnose. Learn more about these two disorders and how they compare.
What Is Borderline Personality Disorder?
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental health condition that’s often associated with emotional instability. It also can affect how you feel about yourself and others. To qualify as borderline personality disorder, a person has to experience at least five of the disorder’s major symptoms, which can include:
- Broken relationships. People with BPD often idealize others, especially romantic partners, and then devalue them when they fail to live up to their standards. This can happen quickly, moving quickly from extreme like to extreme dislike.
- Impulsive risk-taking. Behaving in ways that are reckless to one’s well-being or the well-being of others is also a symptom of BPD. These behaviors include abusing addictive substances, gambling, and engaging in risky sex, among others.
- Feeling empty. Feeling like you have no purpose of direction for long periods or in recurring episodes.
- Suicidal ideation. This may be thinking about suicide or making suicidal threats to control others, especially out of fear that they may abandon you.
- Difficulty controlling anger. This may involve intense anger or difficulty controlling anger.
- Paranoia or dissociation. This can involve severe stress-related paranoia or dissociation or mentally and emotionally disconnect from a situation.
Is Borderline Personality Disorder Genetic?
If you’re concerned about borderline personality disorder, you might ask, “Is BPD genetic?” If someone in your family is diagnosed with the condition or you have a parent with it, there’s a chance it could be passed on to you. Studies have found that if your first-degree relative has been diagnosed and treated with the condition, you’re 10 times more likely to have the disorder yourself. This is much higher than relatives with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.
Although BPD runs in families, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s because of genetics. So, what does that mean exactly? First-degree relatives share more than genes. They share environments, which is also a potential contributor. If you and your brother or sister are raised in the same house by the same parents, your environment can also contribute to BPD.
Borderline personality disorder is a serious condition that requires professional treatment. When left untreated, it can cause significant issues in your life. However, can BPD turn into schizophrenia? While the two mental disorders share many similarities, borderline personality disorder cannot develop into schizophrenia. The prevalence of BPD is similar to that of schizophrenia. In one study, an estimated 20 percent of individuals in inpatient treatment were found to have BPD, approaching similar levels to that of schizophrenia.
If you’ve been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, you likely have a genetic predisposition to develop the condition. You probably also encountered events in your environment that contributed to this, including child abuse or losing someone you cared for deeply. Borderline personality disorder is nothing that stems from being weak or an inability to handle things. If a first-degree relative of yours has the condition, the odds of you developing it are much higher. Bear in mind that this doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to develop BPD.
One concern people have is BPD psychosis, which can last anywhere from three weeks to four months. Many people diagnosed with the condition will become paranoid and battle psychosis. Those battling paranoia will believe the government is spying on them through their phone calls, or they’re convinced their significant other is cheating on them. They will also experience hallucinations they believe are real.
Psychosis can sometimes range from mild to severe. While it’s most often short-lived, it can persist for quite some time. Stress is the primary culprit behind the paranoia.
What Is Schizoaffective Disorder?
Schizoaffective disorder is often described as a mix between schizophrenia and a mood disorder. That means that schizoaffective disorder involves psychotic symptoms that don’t last longer than six months (or else it would be considered schizophrenia). It also involved depression or mania symptoms that are typically seen in mood disorders.
Psychotic symptoms may involve seeing or hearing something others can’t perceive or delusions, which are strongly held beliefs that differ from reality or reason. Mood symptoms can include depression, loss of motivation, loss of joy in normal activities, or manic episodes that cause a heightened mood and greater impulsivity.
Types of Schizoaffective Disorder
Schizoaffective personality disorder is complex. There are two variations of the condition, including the bipolar type and depressive type. The bipolar type refers to episodes of mania and sometimes major depression, while the depressive type includes only major depressive episodes.
Each person will react differently to their diagnosis, but when left untreated, it will cause significant issues in how the person functions at work, school, or in social situations. Holding down a job will be troublesome, and it will cause loneliness. A diagnosis means you need daily support to function. Treatment will help manage your symptoms and improve the quality of your life.
How Do Borderline Personality Disorder And Schizoaffective Disorder Compare?
Borderline personality disorder and schizoaffective disorder each come with a fairly unique set of symptoms. However, both can contribute to depression and anxiety symptoms and affect the way you see yourself and others. Like many mental health issues, both of these conditions may strain your relationships in a way that makes you feel isolated.
Finally, both of these disorders can be difficult to diagnose and treat. However, in working with professionals, both can be effectively treated. There is no magic pill or perfect treatment plan, but if you consistently work with your therapist or doctor, you can find a way to better manage your mental health challenges.