Research update from Emma Tickle

I am currently in the final stages of my PhD at the University of Worcester, writing up my research thesis exploring the diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (sometimes called emotionally unstable personality disorder) in people living with bipolar disorder. Thank you again to all the participants who took part in interviews and completed the questionnaire. I am delighted to be able to share an update on my research.

Responses from over 1600 BDRN participants has shown that about one in six have also received a clinical diagnosis of borderline personality disorder or traits. This is particularly common, at almost one in four, among people who have bipolar II disorder. The diagnosis is also more likely among people who have additional mental health diagnoses, such as anxiety disorder and substance misuse, and among those who have made suicide attempts.

In-depth interviews I carried out with BDRN participants who have received a clinical diagnosis of both bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder have helped to explore what it is like to live with both diagnoses. The interviews highlighted a fear of stigma associated with a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, and a concern of dismissal when seeking help. Individuals described severe symptoms and reported many difficulties and experiences they had faced throughout their lives. I would like to take this opportunity again to thank participants for being so open and willing to share their experiences.

The relationship between bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder is complex, and I am still in the process of making sense of all the research findings as I write them up. I will share more results as I reach the end of my PhD.

Emma Tickle PhD student