Bipolar and Borderline Personality Disorder

by Penni
(Australia)

I have been diagnosed with bipolar/borderline personality disorder, I have only been medicated for 2 weeks. My question is why do I need to wait for help from either councellors or higher forms of doctors for therapy when I am ready right now for it? What should I be saying to these doctors and phyc to get help?


Ben's Answer:

Borderline Personality disorder can be helped with only one approach, and that is psychotherapy (not medicine). It is also well proven, that treatment for Bipolar disorder should include psychotherapy. A bipolar support group can be very valuable also. If your doctor or psychiatrist is telling you that you shouldn't start therapy, even though you want that, I would seriously question their judgment. Unless they feel that your mood is so unstable right now that you would be unable to benefit from weekly psychotherapy, I really can't imagine why they would discourage that.

I will say however, that if you just see any general psychotherapist who doesn't have good experience with Bipolar disorder, you may be wasting your time at best, and at worst they could make things worse. (Of course the same is even more true if you see a psychiatrist who is incompetent). So shop around and choose wisely; a therapist who is really good at what they do, who is comfortable using DBT and/or mindfulness-based CBT or similar approach (for borderline personality issues), and is also very familiar with bipolar disorder would serve you best. Even better would be someone who is also open to alternative/natural approaches and not just another blind follower of the cult of medication.

Medications have their place, and may sometimes be necessary, but there are also alternatives that the mainstream doctors will rarely be familiar with. Sometimes however, when newly diagnosed, and when the mood is very volitile and unstable, medications are a fast way to get things settled down enough to make a clear decision about the next step in your treatment, so if possible, work with your doctors on a treament plan that makes sense to you.

I wish you the best,
Ben Schwarcz, MFT

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