Saturday Night Live has made a reputation for itself as a show that can take on tough subjects with grace and humor, and when cast member Pete Davidson was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), they knew just what to do. Pete went on the segment, Weekend Update, and Colin Jost interviewed him. True to form, Pete was honest and vulnerable about his struggle and about seeking help—he was also funny. During the interview, he encouraged anyone else who has BPD to seek help, saying, “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.”
The first two pieces of advice may be more applicable than the last suggestion. Seeking help is often a critical step for people who have BPD. It can disrupt people’s lives and lead to instability in their behavior, emotions, relationships, and more. With therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder, many people are able to manage their symptoms and reintroduce stability into their lives. That is why Thriveworks Westminster offers treatment for BPD. We have worked with many clients who were struggling with the instability that Borderline Personality Disorder had introduced into their lives, but with support and mental health care, they were able to take back control of their lives.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) gives the symptoms for Borderline Personality Disorder, and it classifies the disorder as one of ten different personality disorders. Maladaptive behaviors can undermine an individual’s personal or professional life. Each personality disorder has uniquely harmful characteristics that can harm individuals who have the disorder. Borderline Personality Disorder’s harmful characteristic is volatility.
BPD can cause people to have unstable relationships with themselves and with others. Its symptoms include…
- Fearing separation and abandonment in relationships.
- Going to extremes, avoiding any real or perceived relational separation.
- Combative behavior—frequently lashing out in anger, using sarcasm and bitterness, participating in and/or starting fights, et cetera.
- A history of tumultuous relationships (often, BPD makes people may glorify others initially, and then when expectations are inevitably broken, they may be deeply disappointed).
- Frequently altering one’s identity—values, perceptions, and goals in particular.
- Oscillating from one extreme feeling to another: happiness and outrage, anxiety and anger, and so forth.
- Experiencing periods of paranoia for minutes or hours wherein one loses touch with the real world.
- Trouble handling rejection or criticism in any form (even helpful feedback).
- Threatening to attempt or attempting suicide or self-injury as a way to cope with criticism, fear, or rejection.
- A deep-seated feeling of emptiness.
- Engaging in risky and impulsive behavior that puts one at risk: reckless driving, gambling, unfettered spending, drug use, self-sabotage, binge eating, unsafe sex, and more.
In and of itself, it is clear that Borderline Personality Disorder can cause a number of challenges for an individual, but BPD can also put people at increased risk for other mental health challenges such as eating disorders, self-harm, substance abuse, depression, and addiction.
Risk Factors for BPD
Women have Borderline Personality Disorder at a rate three times higher than men, but mental health professionals believe that they suffer at the same rate—men are just under-diagnosed. BPD is believed to affect almost two percent of the US population, and mental health professionals are not entirely sure why it develops in some people and not others. However, they have noticed certain factors that can increase an individual’s risk, such as:
- A genetic history of mental illness in general or specifically BPD.
- A smaller hippocampus (the area of the brain that controls stress hormones and responses).
- Surviving childhood neglect or abuse (verbal, sexual, or physical), especially from a caregiver or parent.
- Experiencing the death of a caregiver or parent as a child.
There is significant harm that Borderline Personality Disorder can introduce into an individual’s life, but with therapy, much of that harm can be mitigated. There are effective interventions, and skilled therapists can often find the right treatment for an individual’s particular needs. Often, that treatment will involve Dialectical Behavior Therapy—a form of therapy that was developed specifically to treat BPD. Dialectical Behavior Therapy was so successful, that it is now used to treat other mental health challenges. It focuses upon teaching people coping and healing skills such as…
- Mindfulness: Being present with oneself so that every feeling, thought, and sensation is observed without judgment.
- Emotional regulation: Receiving emotions and processing them in a healthy way.
- Distress tolerance: Learning how to cope with life’s inevitable distresses, disappointments, frustrations, and setbacks.
- Interpersonal effectiveness: Building a wide variety of relationships and functioning well within those relationships.
Scheduling Appointments for Borderline Personality Disorder at Thriveworks Westminster
If you have a BPD diagnosis and have not sought treatment yet, consider reaching out. If you have not been diagnosed but recognized some of its symptoms, consider reaching out. Thriveworks Westminster offers therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder, and we have appointments available. When you call our office, you may be meeting with your therapist the next day. We also accept many different insurance plans. Call today.