Management Strategies for Borderline Personality Disorder and Bipolar Disorder Comorbidities in Adults with ADHD: A Narrative Review

Brain Sci. 2023 Oct 26;13(11):1517. doi: 10.3390/brainsci13111517.


This narrative review examines two of the common comorbidities of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, bipolar disorder (BD), and borderline personality disorder (BPD), which each share several common features with ADHD that can make assessment and diagnosis challenging. The review highlights some of the key symptomatic differences between adult ADHD and these disorders, allowing for more careful consideration before establishing a formal diagnosis. When the disorders are found to be comorbid, further complications may arise; thus, the review will also help to provide evidence-based treatment recommendations as well as suggestions on how to minimize adverse events. Incorporating evidence from systematic reviews, journal articles, randomized controlled trials, and case reports, this review highlights that the diagnosis of ADHD and some of its common comorbidities is challenging and requires full, in-depth assessment and management. The management strategies of these comorbidities will also be addressed, with emphasis on achieving mood stabilization for BD prior to initiating appropriate ADHD pharmacotherapy. Medications, specifically mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and antidepressants, are fundamental in treating symptoms seen in BD and some cases of BPD, alongside psychotherapy and lifestyle modifications when appropriate. The review highlights the effectiveness of specific medications, including psychostimulants, atomoxetine, and bupropion, as add-on therapies to mood-stabilizing treatments for addressing ADHD symptoms in patients with these comorbidities. Despite limited research, the review will address various pharmacological and psychotherapeutic approaches for managing comorbid ADHD and BPD, emphasizing the need for further investigations to better understand the unique needs of this patient population.

Keywords: ADHD; bipolar disorder; borderline personality disorder; dual diagnosis; management; psychostimulants; psychotherapy.

Publication types

  • Review

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.