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.
Symptoms 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 you are and what you 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 you’re being picked on, feeling “zoned out” or numb, or feeling like people or things aren’t real.
Causes of Borderline Personality Disorder
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 that work together to increase a person’s risk for developing BPD. These factors include:
- Biological and genetic factors, such as gene and brain structure variations are sometimes present in patients with BPD. There are also studies that suggest BPD tends to run in families.
- Social factors, such as how the person interacted in their early development with their family, friends and other children.
- Psychological factors, such as the individual’s personality and temperament, which is shaped by their environment and how they learned to cope with stress.
- Environmental factors, such as distressing childhood experiences that typically involve caregivers. Physical and sexual abuse, neglect, emotional abuse and early separation from caregivers are common experiences amongst people with BPD.
Borderline Personality Disorder Treatment
BPD is hard to diagnose because it’s composed of many different elements. BPD can co-occur with depression, anxiety disorders, post traumatic stress disorder, biploar disorder, and other disorders that may hide or hinder a true BPD diagnosis. People with BPD may also try to cope with the symptoms by abusing drugs or alcohol, which can also hinder or hide a true BPD diagnosis.
Treatment of BPD typically involves long-term psychotherapy (“talk” therapy) with a therapist who is experienced at treating this kind of disorder. Dialectal behavior therapy is often the most effective form of psychotherapy treatment for patients with BPD. Sometimes medications such as antidepressants and mood stabilizers may also be prescribed to help with very specific and debilitating symptoms, such as depression and anxiety.
There are so many stigmas and shame attached to mental illness that people often don’t want to come forward with their symptoms and seek help. If you think that you suffer from BPD or know someone who may be, it’s important to seek help and support right away, especially if substance abuse is present. The symptoms of BPD are dangerous enough without the added stress and health risk of alcohol or drug abuse.
In addition to psychotherapy and pharmaceutical medications, some people have successfully eased their borderline personality disorder symptoms with holistic treatments, such as yoga, acupuncture, meditation and herbal/natural supplements.