Skip to content

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

Here at We Level Up FL Treatment Facility, we provide proper care with our round-the-clock physicians available to help you cope and succeed in 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.


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 and 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 set of feelings and behaviors that, to the person experiencing them, appear normal and justifiable even though they frequently cause issues in their daily lives. 

What Causes Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)?

It is uncertain what causes borderline personality disorder. It is believed that societal, familial, and genetic variables are important. [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 are the Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)?

People with a borderline personality disorder may experience mood swings and 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 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 include 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 a 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 an 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.
With borderline personality disorder, you have an intense fear of abandonment or instability, and you may have difficulty tolerating being alone.
With borderline personality disorder, you have an intense fear of abandonment or instability, and you may have difficulty tolerating being alone.

Learn More:

Borderline Personality Disorder Statistics

BPD is best managed with an interprofessional team, including psychiatrists, psychologists, pharmacists, mental health nurses, and social workers. In the United States, recent research has shown that 1.6% of the population has BPD. That number may seem small, but when you consider just how large the United States is, you may realize that 1.6% represents quite a large number of people. Borderline personality disorder is one of the most challenging mental health disorders to manage. [1]


1.4%

It’s estimated that 1.4% of the adult U.S. population experiences BPD.

Source: NCBI

75%

Nearly 75% of people diagnosed with BPD are women.

Source: NCBI

20%

Surveys have estimated the prevalence of borderline personality disorder to be 20% in the inpatient psychiatric population.

Source: NCBI


Borderline Personality Disorder

Facts Sheet

Individual talk therapy may successfully treat BPD. In addition, group therapy and books about borderline personality disorder 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.


BPD Treatment

BPD was once thought untreatable. However, this isn’t the case, and we now know there are effective treatments for BPD. Many people with BPD find relief from distress through therapy.


Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) was developed by psychologist Marsha Linehan. This form of therapy teaches you to live and cope with difficult and overwhelming emotions. DBT is the most common form of treatment for BPD. Each skill set helps alleviate symptoms associated with BPD.

Dialectical behavioral therapy teaches you four main skill sets:

  • Interpersonal effectiveness
  • Emotional regulation
  • Distress tolerance
  • Mindfulness

Mentalization-Based Therapy

Mentalization-based therapy helps you develop an awareness of your inner state. Another significant focus of mentalization-based therapy is developing empathy for other peoples’ experiences.

Research in 2018 suggests that this therapy could significantly reduce the severity of BPD symptoms and the severity of co-existing conditions and improve quality of life. The authors note that more research is still needed, though.


Medication

No single medication is effective for BPD, but medications may relieve some symptoms.

For example, medications may help with mood stabilization. If you think medication might help you, consider talking with a doctor about your symptoms.


When to Contact a Medical Professional

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

You can also call 911 or the local emergency number or go to the hospital emergency room. DO NOT delay.

If someone you know has attempted suicide, call 911 or the local emergency number immediately. DO NOT leave the person alone, even after you have called for help.

If you think you may benefit from borderline personality disorder therapies, you can contact We Level Up FL for treatment resources.
If you think you may benefit from borderline personality disorder therapies, you can contact We Level Up FL for treatment resources.

[2] Source: Borderline personality disorder – U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Institutes of Health

  1. What is a Borderline Personality Disorder?

    If you are wondering, “what is the borderline personality disorder?”, “what is borderline personality disorder like?”, or “borderline personality disorder what is it?”, the answer is a mental illness marked by erratic emotions, behavior, and connections.

  2. What is the most effective treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder?

    If you are wondering, “what is the treatment for borderline personality disorder?”, the answer is according to DBT, people with BPD can learn techniques that will improve their awareness and give them the ability to better endure discomfort, control their emotions, and manage relationships. This will help them manage their sensitivity and interactions with others.

  3. What is the difference between Bipolar and Borderline Personality Disorder?

    Compared to borderline, the mood fluctuations associated with bipolar disorder are less predictable and more erratic. Bipolar patients may react in a hair-trigger way during an episode, whereas borderline patients react in a hair-trigger way all the time.

  4. What is Borderline Personality Disorder symptoms?

    If you are wondering, “what is a person with borderline personality disorder like?”, the answer is individuals who have borderline personality disorder may go through severe mood swings and struggle with their self-image. They have the ability to abruptly go from intense closeness to intense hate of others. Instable relationships and emotional suffering can result from these shifting emotions.

  5. What cluster is Borderline Personality Disorder?

    Hypersensitivity to rejection and the ensuing instability of interpersonal relationships, one’s self-image, one’s mood, and one’s conduct define borderline personality disorder (BPD), a cluster B 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.
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.

Not everyone with borderline personality disorder experiences every symptom. Some individuals experience only a few symptoms, while others have many. Seemingly ordinary events can trigger symptoms.

For example, people with a borderline personality disorder may become angry and distressed over minor separations from people they feel close to, 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. 

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, significantly if symptoms of other illnesses overlap with those of borderline personality disorder. For example, a person with a borderline personality disorder may be more likely also to experience symptoms of depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, or eating disorders.

Risk Factors

The cause of borderline personality disorder is unclear. Still, research suggests that genetics, brain structure and function, and environmental, cultural, and social factors play a role or may increase the risk of developing a borderline personality disorder.

  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.
A borderline personality disorder affects how you feel about yourself, how you relate to others, and how you behave.
A borderline personality disorder affects how you feel about yourself, how you relate to others, and how you behave.

Although these factors may increase a person’s risk, it does not mean they will develop a borderline personality disorder. Likewise, people without these risk factors may 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 challenging to treat. But, with newer, evidence-based treatment, many people with the disorder experience fewer or less severe symptoms and improved quality of life. People with borderline personality disorder must 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 essential for people with borderline personality disorder and their loved ones to be patient and 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 the 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 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 mood and anxiety symptoms and reduce the number of suicidal or self-harming behaviors.
If you notice signs or symptoms in a family member or friend, talk to that person about seeing a doctor or mental health provider.
If you notice signs or symptoms in a family member or friend, talk to that person about seeing a doctor or mental health provider.

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.

Can Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) Be Treated?

See your healthcare provider if you or someone you know has symptoms of borderline personality disorder. It is essential to seek help immediately 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.

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 to 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.
Treatment outcome research has found that for many people, treatment does work!

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

Here at We Level Up FL Treatment Facility, we provide proper care with our round-the-clock physicians available to help you cope and succeed in 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.

Your call is private and confidential, and there is never any obligation.

How To Improve Your Mental Health Video

Tips For an Emotionally Healthy Heart:

#1: Find out who your true friends are. Many of us rotate between various social circles and groups of people, and everyone seems nice on the surface. But everyone who smiles at you does not necessarily have your best interests at heart. Try to really pay attention to how people you consider your friends act when you’re high and when you’re low, when you get a promotion or lose a job, enter a new relationship, or end one. Their initial response will be their authentic one. In order to keep a healthy heart, you want to surround yourself with people who are on your team, and will be solid like roots, not wavy like leaves.

#2: Find a way to express your feelings. One of the best and most effective ways to maintain a healthy heart is to never hold your emotions inside. When you swallow your feelings, they have nowhere to go but your mind, and you can easily create a negative narrative in your head as to how loved and valued you really are. So find a way to express your emotions, be it by journaling, meditating, praying, writing poetry, writing music, talking to a friend, or talking to a therapist. If you can find an outlet for your emotions, it will be easier for you to understand and manage them.

#3: Be kinder to yourself. Our last, and personally, favorite strategy for maintaining a healthy heart is to just be kinder to yourself. You are a human, which means you will make mistakes. You will mess up. But your mistakes and your past do not define who you are. We are constantly evolving and growing and that takes time and patience. Just like plants, we need water and nutrients to help us on the inside and sunlight to warm us on the outside. Learn how to rest; do not drive yourself into the ground trying to meet deadlines. If someone offers to take care of you or bring you food because they’re worried about you, let them.

YouTube video
Search Borderline Personality Disorder Topics & Resources
Sources:

[a] We Level Up – Mental Health » Borderline Personality Treatment

[b] Borderline Personality Disorder – U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

[c] Borderline Personality Disorder U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health

[4] 18 Signs You Grew Up With ‘Quiet Borderline Personality Disorder’ – The Mighty Available from: https://themighty.com/topic/borderline-personality-disorder/quiet-borderline-personality-disorder-bpd-signs-child/

[5] National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health (UK). Borderline Personality Disorder: Treatment and Management. Leicester (UK): British Psychological Society (UK); 2009. (NICE Clinical Guidelines, No. 78.) 2, BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK55415/

[6] Borderline Personality Disorder – National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

[7] Subbarao BS, Silverman A, Eapen BC. Seizure Medications. [Updated 2022 Jul 11]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482269/

[8] Bandelow B, Michaelis S, Wedekind D. Treatment of anxiety disorders. Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2017 Jun;19(2):93-107. DOI: 10.31887/DCNS.2017.19.2/bbandelow. PMID: 28867934; PMCID: PMC5573566.

[9] Olabi B, Hall J. Borderline personality disorder: current drug treatments and prospects. Ther Adv Chronic Dis. 2010 Mar;1(2):59-66. DOI: 10.1177/2040622310368455. PMID: 23251729; PMCID: PMC3513859.

[10] Borderline Personality Disorder – MentalHealth.gov U.S. Department of Health & Human Services