What Is Borderline Personality Disorder? Affected, Symptoms And Treatment

A mental illness is borderline personality disorder (BPD). Extreme mood swings, shaky relationships and difficulty managing emotions are all symptoms of BPD. They are more likely to commit suicide and engage in destructive behavior. The main form of treatment for BPD is talk therapy.

What Is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)?

The mental health condition known as a borderline personality disorder (BPD) is characterized by impulsivity, interpersonal relationship instability and extreme mood swings.

People with BPD struggle to control their emotions, especially anger and have a severe fear of abandonment. Additionally, they frequently engage in risky and impulsive behaviors like reckless driving and making threats of harm to themselves. It is challenging for them to keep relationships going as a result of all of these behaviors.

One of the “Cluster B” personality disorders which are characterized by dramatic and erratic behaviors is a borderline personality disorder. Personality disorders are characterized by persistent, rigid, dysfunctional behavior patterns that cause social problems and distress.

Many people who suffer from borderline personality disorder are unaware of their condition and may not be aware that there are better ways to act and interact with others.

What Is Borderline Personality Disorder?
What Is Borderline Personality Disorder?

What Distinguishes Bipolar Disorder From Borderline Personality Disorder?

A borderline personality disorder is not the same as bipolar disorder which also exhibits significant mood and behavior changes (BPD).

When under significant stress, especially when interacting with others, moods and behavior in BPD change quickly whereas in bipolar disorder moods are more stable and less reactive. Contrary to those with BPD, those with bipolar disorder also experience significant changes in energy and activity.

Who Is Affected By Borderline Personality Disorder?

The majority of personality disorders start in adolescence when your personality is still growing and developing. Because of this, almost everyone with a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder is older than 18.

Although anyone can develop BPD, those who have a family history of the disorder are more likely to do so. Additionally, those who suffer from other mental health issues like anxiety, depression, or eating disorders are more susceptible.

Approximately 75% of those with BPD diagnoses are born female (AFAB). According to research, those who were given the male gender at birth (AMAB) may also experience BPD, though they may receive the wrong diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression.

How Common Is Borderline Personality Disorder?

It is not very common to have a borderline personality disorder. BPD affects about 1.4% of adult Americans in the country.

What Is Borderline Personality Disorder?
What Is Borderline Personality Disorder?

What Symptoms And Signs Are Associated With Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)?

Borderline personality disorder signs and symptoms typically start to show up in late adolescence or early adulthood. An upsetting or stressful situation can bring on symptoms or exacerbate them.

Symptoms typically get better with time and sometimes even disappear entirely. The following symptoms which can be present in any combination can range in severity from very mild to manageable:

Fear of abandonment:

People with BPD frequently experience anxiety when left alone. People with BPD experience extreme fear or rage when they believe they are being neglected or abandoned. They might find out where their loved ones are or prevent them from leaving. To avoid rejection, they might also push people away before getting too close.

Unstable, intense relationships:

Because they have a propensity to drastically and abruptly alter their perceptions of others, people with BPD find it difficult to maintain healthy interpersonal relationships. They are capable of switching quickly between idealizing and undervaluing other people. Their marriages, friendships and ties to their families are frequently tumultuous and unstable.

Unstable self-image or sense of self:

People with BPD frequently have a skewed or unclear view of themselves, frequently feel guilty or ashamed and frequently perceive themselves as “bad.” Additionally, they might dramatically and abruptly alter their goals, viewpoints, careers or social circles. They frequently obstruct their advancement. For instance, they might purposefully fail a test, damage relationships or lose their jobs.

Rapid mood changes:

People with BPD may go through abrupt changes in how they feel about themselves, other people, and the outside world. Irrational emotions change frequently and abruptly and include uncontrollable anger, fear, anxiety, hatred, sadness and love. These swings rarely last longer than a few days and typically only last a few hours.

Impulsive and dangerous behavior

People with BPD frequently experience episodes of reckless driving, fighting, gambling, substance use, binge eating and unsafe sexual activity.

Repeated self-harm or suicidal behavior:

Those who suffer from BPD may cut, burn, hurt themselves or threaten to do so. They might even contemplate suicide. These self-destructive behaviors are typically brought on by being rejected by, potentially being abandoned by, or being let down by a caregiver or lover.

Persistent feelings of emptiness

A lot of BPD sufferers feel depressed, bored, unfulfilled or “empty.” Self-hatred and feelings of worthlessness are also frequent.

Anger management issues:

People with BPD frequently experience intense anger and struggle to control it. They might use biting sarcasm, bitterness or angry outbursts to vent their rage. Shame and guilt frequently follow these episodes.

Temporary paranoid thoughts:

Extreme stress, typically the fear of abandonment, can cause dissociative episodes, paranoid thoughts and occasionally hallucinations. The majority of the time, these symptoms are transient and not severe enough to be classified as a separate disorder.

All of these symptoms are not present in every person with a borderline personality disorder. Each person has different symptoms in terms of intensity, frequency and duration.

What Causes Borderline Personality Disorder?

Healthcare professionals believe that several factors, such as:

Childhood abuse and trauma

Up to 70% of people with BPD have a history of being physically, emotionally, or sexually abused as children. BPD is also linked to parental substance use disorder, poor maternal attachment, inappropriate family boundaries and maternal separation.


According to studies, a borderline personality disorder is heritable. You’re more likely to get BPD if someone in your family has it but it’s not a given.

Brain changes

The brain regions that regulate emotion and behavior improperly communicate in those with BPD. These issues have an impact on how their brains function.

How Is Borderline Personality Disorder Diagnosed?

Child and teen personality development continues. Because of this, a borderline personality disorder is usually diagnosed after age 18. If symptoms last at least a year, a person under 18 may be diagnosed with BPD.

Most people with personality disorders including borderline personality disorder, lack insight into their disruptive behavior and thought patterns. When they seek help, it’s often for anxiety or depression caused by their personality disorder like divorce or lost relationships, not the disorder itself.

A psychiatrist, psychologist or clinical social worker can diagnose borderline personality disorder based on the DSM-IV criteria. They do this by interviewing and discussing symptoms. Their questions illuminate:

  • Family and personal medical history, especially mental health conditions.
  • Previous work history.
  • Impulse control.

Mental health professionals work with family and friends to learn more about a person’s behaviors and history.

What Is Borderline Personality Disorder?
What Is Borderline Personality Disorder?

How Is Borderline Personality Disorder Treated?

BPD has historically been difficult to treat. But many people with borderline personality disorder now benefit from more recent, evidence-based treatments that reduce their symptoms and make them less severe while also improving their functioning and quality of life.

However, effective treatment needs persistence, tolerance and commitment. Both medications and talk therapy are possible forms of treatment.

If you’re extremely depressed or in danger of hurting yourself or others, your doctor may advise a brief hospital stay. Your healthcare provider will collaborate with you to create a treatment plan throughout your stay.

Other mental health conditions that borderline personality disorder patients frequently have include:

  • Mood disorders (80% to 96% of people with BPD).
  • Anxiety disorders (88%).
  • Substance use disorder (64%).
  • Eating disorders (53%).
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (10% to 30%).
  • Bipolar disorder (15%).
  • Somatoform disorders (10%).

Can Borderline Personality Disorder Be Prevented?

Unfortunately, a borderline personality disorder cannot be prevented. Since BPD is frequently inherited (passed down through families), having a family history of the disorder increases your risk of developing it. To receive treatment as soon as possible, ask your healthcare provider for advice on how to spot the disorder’s symptoms.

What Is The Prognosis (outlook) For Borderline Personality Disorder?

In most cases, BPD symptoms progressively get better as people age. In their 40s, some people’s symptoms go away. Many BPD sufferers can learn to control their symptoms and enhance their quality of life with the right care.

Without treatment, those who suffer from borderline personality disorder run a higher risk of developing:

  • Substance use disorder and alcohol use disorder.
  • Depression.
  • Self-harm.
  • Suicide.

People with BPD have a 40 times higher suicide risk than the general population. Suicide accounts for 8% to 10% of deaths among BPD patients.

Numerous BPD sufferers also struggle to maintain stable or orderly interpersonal relationships and have difficulty finding and keeping a job. They are more likely to experience divorce, family estrangement and tumultuous friendships. Financial and legal issues are also frequent.

How Can I Help Someone With Borderline Personality Disorder?

Here are some ways you can assist someone you know who has borderline personality disorder:

  • Spend some time learning about BPD to better comprehend what your loved one is going through.
  • Encourage your loved one to receive BPD treatment and if they are a relative, inquire about family therapy.
  • Provide patience, understanding and emotional support. People with BPD may find change challenging and frightening but treatment can help their symptoms get better over time.
  • If you’re under a lot of stress or showing signs of a mental illness, like anxiety or depression, seek therapy for yourself. A different therapist should be chosen from the one your loved one is seeing.

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