Overview Of Borderline Personality Disorder
The primary characteristic of borderline personality disorder is that you may find it difficult to regulate your emotions and behavior. This can negatively affect the way you feel about yourself and others in your life, potentially making it challenging for you to maintain stable relationships.
One of the challenges of borderline personality disorder is an almost-overwhelming fear of being abandoned, and you might find it difficult to be alone. Unfortunately, being unable to manage your emotions effectively can lead to impulsive behaviors, frequent outbursts of anger, and wild mood swings.
Symptoms Of BPD
There are a number of symptoms that may indicate you have borderline personality disorder, including:
- risky and/or impulsive behaviors: reckless driving, binge eating, unsafe sex, sabotaging a positive relationship, gambling, and quitting a good job
- a pattern of intense and unstable relationships that often cycle between idealization (love) and devaluation (hate)
- powerful and inappropriate anger, including getting into physical fights or frequently losing your temper
- paranoia related to stress that can include breaks from reality that last a few hours
- persistent feelings of emptiness
- an almost-overwhelming fear of abandonment that could fuel extreme steps to avoid rejection and/or separation
- values and goals that can rapidly change because of negative self-identity or a belief that you don’t exist
- extreme mood swings that can cycle from intense shame, irritability, and anxiety to being happy and upbeat over the course of a few hours to as long as several days
- fears of rejection and/or separation that prompts suicidal or self-injurious behaviors or threats
Borderline Personality Causes And Risk Factors
Experts don’t completely understand what causes borderline personality disorder. However, there are some risk factors, including:
- brain abnormalities related to the regulation of aggression, emotions, mood, and impulses
- environmental factors like a history of childhood neglect or use
- stressful childhood experiences, such as having chaotic family relationships or a parent with a mental health or substance use disorder
- genetic predisposition, or if you have a close relative such as a parent or sibling, who also has borderline personality
- disorder or a similar condition
How Is BPD Diagnosed?
In many cases, children and teens are not typically diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. As young people mature, what once appeared to be symptoms of this disorder could disappear.
Because there is no medical test that is used to diagnose adults with borderline personality, it’s often the result of a comprehensive evaluation. This could include a thorough medical history and exam, a detailed interview with a mental health professional, and a psychological exam.
Co-Occurring Conditions With Another Mental Health Disorder
It isn’t unusual for borderline personality disorder to co-occur with other behavioral and mental health conditions, which can make treatment challenging. The following conditions commonly co-occur with borderline personality disorder:
- Anxiety disorders
- Eating disorders, especially bulimia nervosa
- Bipolar disorder
- Substance use disorders
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Help, Therapy, and Treatment. Resources for your Family Member
Effectively treating borderline personality disorder may require a multi-pronged approach. Treatment may include one or a combination of the following:
- Psychotherapy — Therapy can help you manage overwhelming emotions, improve your relationships, and focus on helping you function better. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), mentalization-based therapy (MBT), and transference-focused psychotherapy (TFP) are a few specific types of talk therapy that can help.
- Medication — This can address symptoms such as aggression, anxiety, or impulsiveness
- Short-term hospitalization — This could be necessary if you’re at risk of self-injury, if you have suicidal thoughts, or if you’re in a current crisis and are unstable. This intensive environment provides around-the-clock care, access, and support to stabilize you safely.