With charm and wit, Saturday Night Live has made a reputation for taking on tough subjects. When Pete Davidson, one of its cast members, received a Borderline Personality Disorder diagnosis, the show knew just what to do. Davidson went on and shared about his struggle. He was open. He was honest. He was vulnerable. He was funny. Colin Jost interviewed him on Weekend Update, and Davidson encouraged anyone who had Borderline Personality Disorder to get help, just like he did. Davidson said, “first of all, if you think you’re depressed, see a doctor and talk to them about medication, and also be healthy. Eating right and exercise can make a huge difference. And finally, if you are in the cast of a late-night comedy show, it might help, if they, ya know, do more of your sketches.” While most people probably will not need that last piece of advice, the idea of working with a mental health professional and taking care of one’s health are very important. Borderline Personality Disorder can disrupt an individual’s sense of self and their relationships. Often, therapy can help people with BPD manage the disorder and live their lives.
The mental health professionals at Thriveworks Counseling in Westborough offer treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder. We have worked with many clients who were struggling with the harmful effects of BPD, and yet, by seeking help, they learned how to heal and how to build the life they wanted.
Signs and Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) lists ten different mental illnesses under the broad classification of personality disorder. Each disorder has unique features, but they all produce maladaptive behaviors in people’s personal and/or professional lives that often undermine their success.
Borderline Personality Disorder’s distinguishing symptom is instability. BPD can cause people to have unstable emotion, identity, and relationships. The volatility can show itself as…
- Being fearful of abandonment, and responding with extreme actions at any real or perceived separation.
- Belligerence: starting/jumping into fights, outbursts of angry, bitterness and sarcasm, easily losing one’s temper, and more.
- A history of fractured friendships, partnerships, business connections, and other relationships.
- Wavering between different selves—altering and shifting one’s identity, goals, values, and perceptions regularly.
- Swinging between extreme feelings: euphoria to irritability, happiness to anxiety, and more.
- Feeling paranoia and losing touch with real life for minutes (or hours or days) at a time.
- Extreme difficulty with any kind of rejection or criticism, even healthy forms of constructive criticism or separation.
- Attempted suicide, self-harm, or threats to injure oneself (particularly when afraid, rejected, or criticized).
- Feelings of emptiness.
- Acting recklessly: engaging in unsafe sex, gambling without restraint, drug abuse, reckless driving, and more.
It is obvious from these symptoms that BPD can cause significant harm in an individual’s life. Yet, its harm is more far-reaching. BPD often co-occurs with other mental health problems like depression, self-harm, addiction, eating disorders, and substance abuse.
Borderline Personality Disorder affects just over 1 percent of the US population, and how and why it develops in certain people but not other people is not entirely clear. Therapists, however, know that certain issues and experiences may contribute to its development. These risk factors increase the likelihood of an individual developing BPD:
- Family history of mental illness, particularly other relatives who have been diagnosed with BPD
- Child abuse or neglect, particularly if the person perpetrating the harm was a parent or primary caregiver.
- A smaller hippocampus (the part of the brain that is responsible for regulating an individual’s stress response).
- As a child, experiencing the loss or death of a parent or primary caregiver.
Treatment for BPD
“This heart of mine has just two setting: nothing at all or too much.
There is no in between.”
BPD can cause severe harm in an individual’s life, but with interventions, many people are able to find treatment for it. Counselors who are experienced in BPD therapy can often help people mitigate its harm in their lives. The best treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder is often personalized to unique clients, but there is a form of therapy that is often effective. Dialectical Behavior Therapy was developed specifically to treat BPD (although it now is used for other disorders). It promotes healing by teaching clients emotional skills like…
- Mindfulness – The ability to observe oneself without judgment so that people have an accurate grasp of what they are feeling and what their bodies are sensing.
- Emotional regulation – The skills needed to use the emotions one feels well by responding to them instead of allowing them to dictate one’s reaction.
- Distress tolerance – The resiliency skills needed to face life’s disappointments, challenges, struggles, and setbacks (because they happen to everyone).
- Interpersonal effectiveness – The relational skills needed to cultivate a wide variety of relationships.
Borderline Personality Disorder at Thriveworks Counseling in Westborough—Scheduling an Appointment
If you are struggling and if you recognized some of the symptoms of BPD as you read about it, consider reaching out. Thriveworks Counseling in Westborough has appointments available. When you contact our office, a scheduling specialist will answer your call and help you set up an appointment. New clients frequently see their counselor within 24 hours of their call. We offer evening and weekend appointments, but we do not put our clients on a waitlist. Many different insurance plans are also accepted. Call today.