Understanding 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.

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.


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One Response to “Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder”

  1. Amelie

    To be honest I think people with borderline disorder should recognize the fact that they could potentially be gifted in certain ways due to having the disorder. I became diagnosed with borderline last summer after a suicide attempt and a miscarriage. The person I loved the most also left me due to stress from having to deal with my emotions. At that time, my life was a complete mess and I felt extremely unfair that this disorder chose me. But after realizing what I have accomplished during my life, I decided to hold a more positive attitude regarding my diagnosis and look at it as if god has closed a door and opened another door for me.
    Before my diagnosis, I have always found it difficult to interact with others. Since I would burst out in anger or breakdown at times without considering the circumstances. Whenever I meet a new person, I would warm up to him/her immediately and they would know my entire life story within 15 minutes of knowing me. However, my emotions have also caused me a lot of success in my life. Ever since I was young, I was recognized by many as an extremely artistically gifted artist. My emotions is what has made my artworks unique; I was also a very talented pianist. Aside from art, I have also modeled at professional modelling agencies and involved in the society by doing many volunteer works. Without having sensitivity, I would have never had the strength of helping so many people and receive appreciations from them. Many people would also characterize me as a very charismatic individual and look up to me as their inspiration.
    After receiving my diagnosis, I understood right away how my disorder was developed. I was raised by my grandparents who possess strong outdated military background. As a child I was not taught about social norms and how to socialize with others. I have also felt a strong sense of abandonment since my parents only visited me once a year. Even after I started living with my parents, I still had no one to talk about my feelings. For example, whenever I get bullied by other kids and try to talk to them about my feelings, they would always blame me and point fingers at me for getting into trouble. Thus, I had little trust towards the people who were supposed to be the closest to me. As a result, I constantly seek strangers to talk about my feelings.
    Even though I often have feelings of sadness and emptiness, I have improved a lot socially after knowing that I have borderline. I have also helped many people with their problems since I could connect easier to how others feel. As much as having this disorder and having to face many roadblocks, I believe that it has created extra potentials for me. Instead of crying everyday, I will use my energy to try my best to help others.