How to Detect Borderline Personality Disorder in Your Loved One

Are you worried that someone you love has borderline personality disorder? While only a licensed mental health professional can make a proper diagnosis, it doesn’t hurt to educate yourself about the symptoms of borderline personality disorder so you can better understand your loved one and encourage him or her to seek professional help. Here’s how to detect borderline personality disorder in your loved one and get the help they need.

What is borderline personality disorder?

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a severe emotional disorder that affects nearly 6 million Americans. People with BPD suffer from many consequences, including frequent mood swings, impulsivity, repeated self-harm attempts, severe negative emotions (such as anger and shame), a distorted self-image, chaotic relationships, and an extreme fear of abandonment.

Nobody knows for sure what causes borderline personality disorder, but there are some theories. Most researchers and professionals believe that BPD is caused by a variety of factors, including biological, genetic and environmental factors, that work together to increase a person’s risk for developing BPD. Many people with BPD report having distressing childhood experiences that typically involve caregivers, such as childhood abuse, neglect, emotional abuse and early separation from caregivers. This plays a large role in the symptoms of BPD, which are outlined below.

What are the signs of borderline personality disorder?

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) causes severe emotional pain and emotional instability. The symptoms of BPD include:

  • Frequently fearing being abandoned by loved ones accompanied by frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.
  • A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships, including frequent arguments, conflicts, breakups and feelings of disappointment and even hatred toward loved ones.
  • Significant and persistent identity disturbance, including an unstable self-image and feeling unsure about who they are and what they believe in.
  • Exhibiting impulsive behaviors that are potentially self-damaging in at least two areas (e.g., sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating, self-injury, spending, etc.).
  • Recurrent suicidal behavior, threats or self-mutilating behavior.
  • Frequent and intense mood changes, such as feeling okay one minute and feeling sad, irritated or angry the next, that typically last between a few minutes and a few hours.
  • Chronic and long-term feelings of emptiness or feeling emotionally dead.
  • Inappropriate and intense anger or difficulty controlling anger.
  • Stress-induced paranoid thoughts, such as feeling like they’re being picked on, feeling “zoned out” or numb, or feeling like people or things aren’t real.

What should I do if I think my loved one has borderline personality disorder?

If someone you know exhibits any of these warning signs of borderline personality disorder, it’s important to seek help right away. Without a proper diagnosis and treatment, these symptoms can interfere with your loved one’s ability to live a normal life. And let’s face it — it also interferes with your ability to lead a normal, happy life as well.


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