PhD Researcher Wins International Award for Work On Bipolar And Borderline Personality Disorder

Emma Tickle web

Emma Tickle, 29, from Worcester, presented initial findings from her research at the International Society of Bipolar Disorders Annual Conference, winning the Best Poster Presentation award for her work.

Emma’s research is focussed around the diagnosis of borderline personality disorder in people already living with bipolar disorder.

“My research explores how common it is for people living with bipolar disorder to also be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder in the UK,” she said. “As well as what aspects of bipolar disorder are linked to having a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, and what it is like for people who are living with both diagnoses.”

“I was really surprised to win an award,” she added. “Any recognition of your research as a PhD student is incredible. It was honestly a shock, but it really helped to boost my confidence in my work. I had a chance to talk to some of the leading bipolar disorder experts in the world about my research and it helped me realise that, as I approach the end of my PhD, I am becoming an expert in my own right.”

Emma, who initially graduated with a degree in Psychology from Worcester, spent the summer immediately following her graduation working as a Vacation Research Assistant with the Mood Disorders Research Group at the University, before taking the decision to apply for a PhD.

“What I'm finding, more than anything, is that the relationship between borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder is incredibly complex,” Emma said. “I have shown that almost 1 in 5 individuals with certain types of bipolar disorder also receive a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. That’s about 20%, which is a lot of people.”

“I have also found that being young when the bipolar disorder starts and having other conditions such as anxiety disorder or alcohol use disorder, make it more likely that borderline personality disorder will also be diagnosed.”

“Very sadly, I have also found that people who have both diagnoses are more likely to make suicide attempts,” she added. “I am very much hoping that my research will highlight this important issue and help people to be able to access the best treatments and care.”