Autistic women are often misdiagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Here are 4 ways to spot the difference

Many women are misdiagnosed with borderline personality disorder, instead of the correct diagnosis of Autism. This is due to the similarity of the two diagnoses and the undereducation of Autism in women by the medical establishment.

  • Autistic women can be misdiagnosed as borderline personality disorder.
  • Both conditions can share symptoms such as mood swings or instability in relationships.
  • Misdiagnosis of autistic women can lead to depression.

It is possible to have Autism and BPD but it’s rare. It is more likely that the reactions of an autistic individual are misinterpreted as BPD symptoms.

The cultural stigma surrounding both disorders plays a part in misdiagnosing autistic people and gender-nonconforming individuals with BPD. Research shows that women are under-diagnosed with autism and over-diagnosed with BPD.

Women with BPD and Autism Can Have Extreme Mood Swings

Dramatic mood swings are often associated with borderline personality disorder. Women who are Autistic can show very similar emotional reactions to BPD, but they are triggered entirely differently than those with BPD. This is known as Autistic burnout, Autistic shutdown, or Autistic meltdown.

BPD meltdowns “almost always” are triggered by attachment problems, while with autism it could be a change of routine disruption or sensory issues.

Other than that, someone with BPD may react if they are abandoned, whereas an autistic individual’s triggers could be more about physical discomfort or mental burnout.

BPD and ASD: Both Can Have Unstable Relationships

Unstable Relationships Due to Borderline Personality Disorder

A key feature of BPD includes instability in relationships. A person with BPD may idealize someone and then devalue that person when they see a flaw.
Autism is characterized by an “all-or-nothing” thinking pattern, which can be similar to BPD regarding relationships. Autistic people can also have hyper-focussed interests, which may include people.

In this context, the focus of an Autistic individual on a friend or partner can seem like intense idealization – a BPD trait.

BPD and ASD: Both Struggle to Understand Who They Are

BPD sufferers can also experience huge changes in self-image, just as they do in their relationships. People with BPD can suddenly change their careers, friends, and religions.
Autistic individuals can struggle with their own self-image. However, it’s more about trying to hide their symptoms from others, whether or not they are aware of it.

Autistic people may be able to conceal some of their symptoms but they can feel as if they don’t really know themselves because they are so focused on fitting into society.

  • Both have a high risk of depression, and misdiagnosis may worsen the condition
  • BPD can cause depression. This includes feelings of emptiness and self-loathing.
  • Many Autistics also experience depression. A misdiagnosis as BPD may make depression worse. It’s essential to know the difference between these disorders.

The burden is not only adding a highly stigmatized diagnosis. It’s the psychological burden that they don’t have access to the right supportive community.

As well, they don’t build an accurate narrative about themselves to understand their past and future better.