I’ve been doing a lot of research into how I’ve been feeling, and how I have felt my whole life. It’s so hard to tell if the way I am and way I think is because of ADHD or if I have BPD or am bipolar but I could really use help in finding out what’s going on, how do I get started with that?
Asked by Maya

Hi Maya!! Welcome and thank you for your question. All of the diagnoses you have identified have overlapping symptoms. There are many symptoms and patterns that are similar such as poor impulse control, emotion dysregulation, sensitivity, mood swings, depression, anxiety, and others. These symptoms are not the only symptoms but are often experienced by many people with the diagnoses you have identified. 

All of these diagnoses have many contributing factors. There are genetic components and environmental components that result in presentations that could be equal to any of the above. In order to determine what diagnoses exist; it is important to complete a detailed biopsychosocial assessment. It is also important to note that all of these diagnoses can exist. Sometimes it is not an either-or scenario but an also or and scenario. People can have multiple diagnoses, and we identify this as comorbid or co-occurring. This also depends on which diagnoses exist together. 

If there are symptoms that have been identified, and they have become unmanageable, it may be important to connect with a therapist and begin identifying what symptoms exist, how they are presenting, as well as how life is impacted. It can also be helpful to know that all these labels are treatable.

The above diagnoses may present similarly and have similar origins. There are generally reasons these symptoms have presented and identifying the reasons and contributing factors can result in behavior changes and improved quality of life. If we are able to identify how the symptoms started and when they started we can learn useful interventions to change the responses and expressions of hurt, anger, shame, etc. We may also find that these labels are inaccurate and a different label is more appropriate. Labels or diagnoses are simply frameworks to practice. Some people have some of the symptoms and do not fit the diagnostic criteria as it is written, but the interventions remain helpful.

Treatment is individualized and I invite you to connect with a clinician who can, with your input, develop a treatment plan that is most effective for you. The two of you can develop measurable goals that you assess often to determine growth.