Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a mental health condition in which an individual has difficulty controlling their emotions. People with BPD feel intense emotions for extended periods of time and have difficulty finding balance within these periods of irregularity. The episodes are brought on by emotional triggers. These emotional episodes can lead to strained relationships, self-harm, low self-esteem, and impulsive actions and decisions.
In recent research, it was determined that over 75% of individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder are women. Men are also impacted but commonly misdiagnosed.
Borderline personality disorder experience instability and insecurity within their emotions. These signs and symptoms may include:
- Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment by friends and family.
- Unstable personal relationships that alternate between idealization (“I’m so in love!”) and devaluation (“I hate her”). This is also sometimes known as “splitting.”
- Distorted and unstable self-image, which affects moods, values, opinions, goals and relationships.
- Impulsive behaviors that can have dangerous outcomes, such as excessive spending, unsafe sex, substance abuse or reckless driving.
- Self-harming behavior including suicidal threats or attempts.
- Periods of intense depressed mood, irritability or anxiety lasting a few hours to a few days.
- Chronic feelings of boredom or emptiness.
- Inappropriate, intense or uncontrollable anger—often followed by shame and guilt.
- Dissociative feelings—disconnecting from your thoughts or sense of identity or “out of body” type of feelings—and stress-related paranoid thoughts. Severe cases of stress can also lead to brief psychotic episodes.
As with many mental health illnesses, the root cause of borderline personality disorder is not clear and is the source of many research projects. The factors that contribute to the onset of BPD can range from family history to brain imbalances. Here is a breakdown of a few factors:
- Genetics: Individuals who have family members who have been diagnosed with BPD are more likely to develop the disease. Scientists have yet to identify a genetic link but there may be one identified as research improves.
- Environment: Individuals who live in toxic environments or experience abuse such as abandonment, physical or sexual trauma, are more likely to develop an illness like BPD. Environmental impact can be difficult for the brain to overcome and therefore create emotional imbalance that reduce an individual’s ability to make sound decisions.
Borderline personality disorder does not have a concrete testing, which can make it extremely difficult to diagnose. Mental health professionals use comprehensive testing and evaluations that help to determine if the symptoms are in fact indicative of BPD.
BPD patients are treated using personalized plans that address their symptoms. Mental health professionals can use one or more techniques during therapy that includes medication, group therapy, or psychotherapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy is usual the first method of treatment mental health professionals uses to treat BPD patients. These methods are adjusted as the plan progresses depending on how effective the treatment plan is in managing BPD symptoms. If a patient is suicidal, short-term hospitalization may be necessary to ensure their safety until their episode is stabilized.