What is Borderline Personality Disorder

What is Borderline Personality Disorder? Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors & Therapies

What is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)?

Borderline personality disorder also known as BPD is a mental illness. It develops during adolescence or early adulthood. It includes self-image issues, difficulty managing emotions, and behavior. And shows up in a pattern of unstable relationships. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, adults reached 1.6 % in the United States have Borderline Personality Disorder. And require borderline personality treatment. [1]

A personality disorder is a pattern of feelings and behavior that seem appropriate and justified to the person experiencing them. Even though these feelings and behaviors cause many problems in that person’s life. 

What Causes Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)?

The cause of borderline personality disorder is unknown. Genetic, family, and social factors are thought to play roles. [2]

Risk factors for BPD include:

  • Abandonment in childhood or adolescence
  • Disrupted family life
  • Poor communication in the family
  • Sexual, physical, or emotional abuse

This personality disorder tends to occur more often in women and among hospitalized psychiatric patients.

What is Borderline Personality Disorder
With borderline personality disorder, you have an intense fear of abandonment or instability, and you may have difficulty tolerating being alone.

What are the Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)?

People with a borderline personality disorder may experience mood swings and display uncertainty about how they see themselves and their role in the world. As a result, their interests and values can change quickly.

People with a borderline personality disorder also tend to view things in extremes, such as all good or all bad. Their opinions of other people can also change quickly. An individual who is seen as a friend one day may be considered an enemy or traitor the next. These shifting feelings can lead to intense and unstable relationships.

Other signs or symptoms may include:

  • Efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment, such as rapidly initiating intimate (physical or emotional) relationships or cutting off communication with someone in anticipation of being abandoned
  • A pattern of intense and unstable relationships with family, friends, and loved ones, often swinging from extreme closeness and love (idealization) to extreme dislike or anger (devaluation)
  • Distorted and unstable self-image or sense of self
  • Impulsive and often dangerous behaviors, such as spending sprees, unsafe sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, and binge eating. Please note: If these behaviors occur primarily during a period of elevated mood or energy, they may be signs of a mood disorder—not borderline personality disorder
  • Self-harming behavior, such as cutting
  • Recurring thoughts of suicidal behaviors or threats
  • Intense and highly changeable moods, with each episode lasting from a few hours to a few days
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • Inappropriate, intense anger or problems controlling anger
  • Difficulty trusting, which is sometimes accompanied by irrational fear of other people’s intentions
  • Feelings of dissociation, such as feeling cut off from oneself, seeing oneself from outside one’s body, or feelings of unreality

Not everyone with borderline personality disorder experiences every symptom. Some individuals experience only a few symptoms, while others have many. Symptoms can be triggered by seemingly ordinary events.

For example, people with a borderline personality disorder may become angry and distressed over minor separations from people to whom they feel close, such as traveling on business trips. The severity and frequency of symptoms and how long they last will vary depending on the individual and their illness. [c]

How Common is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)?

It’s estimated that 1.4% of the adult U.S. population experiences BPD. Nearly 75% of people diagnosed with BPD are women. Recent research suggests that men may be equally affected by BPD, but are commonly misdiagnosed with PTSD or depression. 

What is Borderline Personality Disorder
If you have a borderline personality disorder, don’t get discouraged. Many people with this disorder get better over time with treatment and can learn to live satisfying lives.

How is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) Diagnosed?

BPD is diagnosed based on a psychological evaluation that assesses the history and severity of the symptoms.

A licensed mental health professional—such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or clinical social worker—experienced in diagnosing and treating mental disorders can diagnose borderline personality disorder by:

  • Completing a thorough interview, including a discussion about symptoms
  • Performing a careful and thorough medical exam, which can help rule out other possible causes of symptoms
  • Asking about family medical histories, including any history of mental illness

Borderline personality disorder often occurs with other mental illnesses. Co-occurring disorders can make it harder to diagnose and treat borderline personality disorder, especially if symptoms of other illnesses overlap with the symptoms of borderline personality disorder. For example, a person with a borderline personality disorder may be more likely to also experience symptoms of depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, or eating disorders.

Risk Factors

The cause of borderline personality disorder is not yet clear, but research suggests that genetics, brain structure and function, and environmental, cultural, and social factors play a role, or may increase the risk for developing a borderline personality disorder.

What is Borderline Personality Disorder
A borderline personality disorder affects how you feel about yourself, how you relate to others, and how you behave.
  1. Family History. People who have a close family member, such as a parent or sibling with the disorder may be at higher risk of developing borderline personality disorder.
  2. Brain Factors. Studies show that people with borderline personality disorder can have structural and functional changes in the brain especially in the areas that control impulses and emotional regulation. But is it not clear whether these changes are risk factors for the disorder, or caused by the disorder.
  3. Environmental, Cultural, and Social Factors. Many people with borderline personality disorder report experiencing traumatic life events, such as abuse, abandonment, or adversity during childhood. Others may have been exposed to unstable, invalidating relationships, and hostile conflicts.

Although these factors may increase a person’s risk, it does not mean that the person will develop a borderline personality disorder. Likewise, there may be people without these risk factors who will develop borderline personality disorder in their lifetime.

Treatments and Therapies

Individual talk therapy may successfully treat BPD. In addition, group therapy can sometimes be helpful.

Medications have less of a role in the treatment of BPD. But in some cases, they can improve mood swings and treat depression or other disorders that may occur with this condition.

Borderline personality disorder has historically been viewed as difficult to treat. But, with newer, evidence-based treatment, many people with the disorder experience fewer or less severe symptoms, and improved quality of life. It is important that people with borderline personality disorder receive evidence-based, specialized treatment from an appropriately trained provider. Other types of treatment, or treatment provided by a doctor or therapist who is not appropriately trained, may not benefit the person.

Many factors affect the length of time it takes for symptoms to improve once treatment begins, so it is important for people with borderline personality disorder and their loved ones to be patient and to receive appropriate support during treatment.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is the first-line treatment for people with a borderline personality disorder. A therapist can provide one-on-one treatment between the therapist and patient, or treatment in a group setting. Therapist-led group sessions may help teach people with borderline personality disorder how to interact with others and how to effectively express themselves. [3]

It is important that people in therapy get along with, and trust their therapist. The very nature of borderline personality disorder can make it difficult for people with the disorder to maintain a comfortable and trusting bond with their therapist.

Two examples of psychotherapies used to treat borderline personality disorder include:

  1. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): This type of therapy was developed for individuals with borderline personality disorder. DBT uses concepts of mindfulness and acceptance or being aware of and attentive to the current situation and emotional state. DBT also teaches skills that can help:
    • Control intense emotions
    • Reduce self-destructive behaviors
    • Improve relationships
  2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This type of therapy can help people with borderline personality disorder identify and change core beliefs and behaviors that underlie inaccurate perceptions of themselves and others, and problems interacting with others. CBT may help reduce a range of mood and anxiety symptoms and reduce the number of suicidal or self-harming behaviors.

Medications

Because the benefits are unclear, medications are not typically used as the primary treatment for borderline personality disorder. However, in some cases, a psychiatrist may recommend medications to treat specific symptoms such as:

Treatment with medications may require care from more than one medical professional.

What is Borderline Personality Disorder
If you notice signs or symptoms in a family member or friend, talk to that person about seeing a doctor or mental health provider.

Can Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) Be Treated?

See your health care provider if you or someone you know has symptoms of borderline personality disorder. It is especially important to seek help right away if you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide.

Some people with borderline personality disorder experience severe symptoms and need intensive, often inpatient care. Others may use some outpatient treatments but never need hospitalization or emergency care.

Families and caregivers of people with a borderline personality disorder may also benefit from therapy. Having a relative or loved one with the disorder can be stressful, and family members or caregivers may unintentionally act in ways that can worsen their loved one’s symptoms.

What is Borderline Personality Disorder
Treatment outcome research has found that for many people, treatment does work!

Some borderline personality disorder therapies include family members, caregivers, or loved ones in treatment sessions. This type of therapy helps by:

  • Allowing the relative or loved one develop skills to better understand and support a person with borderline personality disorder
  • Focusing on the needs of family members to help them understand the obstacles and strategies for caring for someone with borderline personality disorder. Although more research is needed to determine the effectiveness of family therapy in borderline personality disorder, studies on other mental disorders suggest that including family members can help in a person’s treatment.

Here at We Level Up FL Treatment Facility, we provide proper care with our round-the-clock physicians available to help you cope and be successful with your recovery. Reclaim your life, call us to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our specialists know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions regarding what is borderline personality disorder.

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