What is Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental health disorder that generates significant emotional instability. This can lead to a variety of other stressful mental and behavioral problems.
With borderline personality disorder, you may have a severely distorted self-image and feel worthless and fundamentally flawed. Anger, impulsiveness and frequent mood swings may push others away, even though you may desire to have loving and lasting relationships.
If you have borderline personality disorder, don’t get discouraged. Many people with this disorder get better with treatment and can live satisfying lives.
Borderline Personality Disorder Causes
Experts don’t know exactly what causes borderline personality disorder. Problems with chemicals in the brain that help control moods may play a role. It also seems to run in families.
Often, people who get it faced some kind of childhood trauma such as abuse, neglect, or the death of a parent. The risk is higher when people who had childhood trauma also have problems coping with anxiety or stress.
Borderline Personality Disorder Symptoms
Borderline personality disorder affects how you feel about yourself, how you relate to others and how you behave.
Signs and symptoms of borderline personality disorder may include:
- Impulsive and risky behavior, such as risky driving, unsafe sex, gambling sprees or illegal drug use
- Awareness of destructive behavior, including self-injury, but sometimes feeling unable to change it
- Wide mood swings
- Short but intense episodes of anxiety or depression
- Inappropriate anger and antagonistic behavior, sometimes escalating into physical fights
- Difficulty controlling emotions or impulses
- Suicidal behavior
- Feeling misunderstood, neglected, alone, empty or hopeless
- Fear of being alone
- Feelings of self-hate and self-loathing
When you have borderline personality disorder, you often have an insecure sense of who you are. Your self-image, self-identity or sense of self often rapidly changes. You may view yourself as evil or bad, and sometimes you may feel as if you don’t exist at all. An unstable self-image often leads to frequent changes in jobs, friendships, goals and values.
Your relationships are usually in turmoil. You may idealize someone one moment and then abruptly and dramatically shift to fury and hate over perceived slights or even minor misunderstandings. This is because people with borderline personality disorder often have difficulty accepting gray areas things seem to be either black or white.
How is it treated?
Borderline personality disorder can be hard to treat. It’s common for symptoms to return. And many people with the disorder have troubled relationships with their counselors and doctors.
But you can take steps to help control the disorder. Long-term treatment can reduce symptoms and harmful behaviors and help you better manage your emotions. Treatment may include:
- Counseling and therapy. It’s important to find a counselor you can build a stable relationship with. This can be hard, because your condition may cause you to see your counselor as caring one minute and cruel the next, especially when he or she asks you to try to change a behavior. Try to find a counselor who has special training in dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) to treat this disorder.
- Medicines, such as antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and antipsychotics. In combination with counseling or therapy, they may be helpful in treating symptoms of borderline personality disorder.
- Healthy habits, such as getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, getting regular exercise, and avoiding alcohol and drugs. These habits can help reduce stress and anxiety. And they can help make your symptoms less severe and less frequent.
Many people find relief from harmful symptoms within the first year of treatment. And about half of those treated find that they no longer have most of the behaviors after about 10 years of treatment.
Unfortunately, many people don’t seek treatment for mental health problems. They may think that their symptoms aren’t bad enough or that they can work things out on their own. But getting treatment is key to improving your symptoms and the quality of your life.
People with this disorder often have other mental health problems such as depression, eating disorders, or substance abuse. Treatment can help with these problems too.
Risk factors of Borderline Personality Disorder
Personality is shaped both by inherited tendencies and environmental factors, as well as experiences during childhood. Some factors related to personality development can increase the risk of developing borderline personality disorder. These include:
- Hereditary predisposition. You may be at a higher risk if a close family member your mother, father, brother or sister has the same or a similar disorder, particularly a mood or anxiety disorder.
- Childhood abuse. Many people with the disorder report being sexually or physically abused during childhood.
- Neglect. Some people with the disorder describe severe deprivation, neglect and abandonment during childhood.
Also, borderline personality disorder is diagnosed more often in young adults and adult women than in men.