The Sucky Part of Dual Diagnoses


Like many of you, I have multiple mental illness diagnoses…ones in which symptoms overlap to the extent that I don’t know what I am experiencing sometimes.

Is it anxiety or hypomania? I tend to go into cleaning frenzies during both states. Is it depression or hypomania? I tend to neglect my self-care during both states? Is it bipolar or borderline personality disorder symptoms? Frequent mood swings and anger outburst appear upon exacerbations of both of these illnesses for me.

How do you distinguish between different diagnoses? Does making the distinction really matter?

For me it does…anxiety means a change in that med while mania means a change in another one. My doctor increased my antidepressant at one point in order to treat (what we thought was) my anxiety, and the change threw me into rapid cycling bipolar symptoms (a very scary place to be.)

Cycling mood swings calls for a look at my mood stabilizer OR maybe I just need to refocus my efforts on using DBT skills (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy skills are clinically effective for treating Borderline Personality Disorder.)

Depression and self-pity…is it clinical – meaning do I need a med adjustment or is it something that a few extra counseling sessions or sobriety support group meetings would alleviate?

I am grateful there are so many avenues of support and treatment for all of my disorders – counseling, support groups, skills, medications (both traditional and alternative.) However, knowing which one needs to be tweaked here and there can be quite frustrating.

Have you ever experience the frustration of having two or more diagnoses whose symptoms overlap? How do you distinguish between them or how do you cope with it? Please share. I really could use your insight.




9 thoughts on “The Sucky Part of Dual Diagnoses

  1. I have just had a dual diagnosis after years of being told its “just” clinical deppression, 6 days ago I found out I have BPD and Bipolar II, I am not sure which is the cause of each feeling as you say, also I am not sure if my feelings are about the diagnosis itself and the battle I had to get it. All of the info I have found on the net is about diagnosing one or the other not a lot about having both, – thank you for this post… I feel less alone


      • Ahhh it’s so obvious now….doh
        Well to be honest I feel differently all the time (suprise,suprise!!!) I am relieved that I was rightand there was something more sinister there, but also I have had to accept some harsh truths about myself especially with the BPD – I have been with my other half for 7 years and it has been hard to accept sme of the behaviour I have displayed in the past. I am lucky that he is very supportive and also this diagnosis made a lot of things click into place. I am loving that the quetepine has such a quick drowsy effect but am dreading other side affects starting (when I started sertraline it was horrendous!!!!) wow what a long rambly reply…. how do you feel about your “dx” šŸ™‚


        • each time one is added I immediately react with an eye roll like here we go again, or shock, and then always self-pity. Finally I move onto doing something about it. Learning about BPD has taught me more about myself and how I work than anything else. DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. I wouldn’t have found DBT without the BPD diagnosis, so for that, I am so grateful. I am also thankful that, like you, I have a very supportive other half (poor guy.)


  2. Pingback: Bit of a Personal Update ā€“ Believer's Brain

    • I am glad you can relate to my posts. Hang in there as you search for the right combination of treatment. It will happen. My moods cycle but acceptance of that makes it easier sometimes. Knowing that the hypomania and depression won’t last long makes me bear through to the other side with my doctors help. Good luck to you and keep in touch.


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