Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is an illness marked by an ongoing pattern of varying moods, self-image, and behavior. These symptoms often result in impulsive actions and problems in relationships. People with a borderline personality disorder may experience intense episodes of anger, depression, and anxiety that can last from a few hours to days.
People with BPD have been described as living with constant emotional pain, and the symptoms of BPD are a result of their efforts to cope with this pain.
The cause of BPD is unknown. Genetic, family and social factors are thought to play roles.
Risk factors include:
• Either real or fear of abandonment in childhood or adolescence
• Disrupted family life
• Poor communication in the family
• Sexual, physical, or emotional abuse
BPD occurs equally in men and women, though women tend to seek treatment more often than men. Symptoms may get better after middle age.
The types and severity of BPD symptoms may differ from person to person because people have different predispositions and life histories, and symptoms can fluctuate over time.
Common symptoms include:
● intense but short-lived bouts of anger, depression, or anxiety
● emptiness associated with loneliness and neediness
● paranoid thoughts and dissociative states in which the mind or psyche “shuts off” painful thoughts or feelings
● The self-image that can change depending on whom the person is with
● impulsive and harmful behaviors such as problematic use of substances, overeating, gambling or high-risk sexual behaviors
● non-suicidal self-injury such as cutting, burning with a cigarette or overdose that can bring relief from the intense emotional pain (onset usually in early adolescence); up to 75 percent of people with BPD self-injure one or more times
● suicide (about 10 percent of people with BPD take their own lives)
● intense fear of being alone or of being abandoned, agitation with even brief separation from family, friends or therapist (because of difficulty to feel emotionally connected to someone who is not there)
● impulsive and emotionally volatile behaviors that may lead to the very abandonment and alienation that the person fears
● volatile and stormy interpersonal relationships with attitudes to others that can shift from idealization to anger and dislike (a result of black and white thinking that perceives people as all good or all bad).
A qualified care team can help you come up with a treatment plan to get the borderline personality disorder under control using medication, therapy, and support.
Medication: Mood stabilizers and anti-depressants along with other drugs, have been used to help control BPD.
Therapy: Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is commonly used to help treat borderline personality disorder. DBT is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy. Its main goals are to teach people how to live in the moment, develop healthy ways to cope with stress, regulate their emotions, and improve their relationships with others.
DBT is focused on four main areas.
● Distress Tolerance
● Emotional Regulation
● Interpersonal Effectiveness
Education: Knowing more about borderline personality disorder and other personality disorders can help you explain what’s going on to the friends and loved ones. It can also help you learn about treatment options.
Support: Getting support is a big step toward improving the life of a patient.
Key points about borderline personality disorder
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental health problem. It can make you feel impulsive, reckless, moody, and emotionally unstable.
BPD can be caused by living in a disruptive environment with unstable family support.
People often seek medical help after attempting self-harm including cutting, self-mutilation, and suicide.
People with BPD generally do very well with medical and cognitive therapy treatment.
Early diagnosis can improve a person’s long-term quality of life. It can also help the person form stable relationships.
Symptoms tend to be chronic and lifelong. But they can be managed with correct treatment and support.
Common co-occurring disorders
A borderline personality disorder is rarely diagnosed on its own.
Common co-occurring disorders include:
● Depression or Bipolar disorder
● Substance abuse
When BPD is successfully treated, the other disorders often get improve, too. But the reverse isn’t always true. For example, you may successfully treat symptoms of depression and still struggle with BPD.