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Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

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Borderline personality disorder is complex. Symptoms vary, but can include dissociation, a range of negative emotions, and relationship issues. The exact cause of BPD is unknown, however potential causes include childhood trauma or neglect, genetic factors, and extreme environmental stress. The disorder can often go undiagnosed or untreated. A range of therapies have been found to be effective in improving the symptoms of BPD.

BPD at a glance

Borderline personality disorder is a mental condition that affects your mood, relationships and self-image. It’s a kind of “fuzzy” diagnosis because it’s complicated and difficult to diagnose.

It can be hard to identify borderline personality disorder in yourself or someone else because it involves traits like impulsivity and irritability, which may also be symptoms of other psychological disorders. It’s important for people with this condition to get treatment so they can lead healthy lives.

There are four main features that define borderline personality disorder:

  • troubled relationships with others;
  • self-destructive behaviour;
  • problems managing emotions; and
  • impulsive behaviour

What Is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental illness characterized by extreme mood swings, impulsive behaviours, and a distorted sense of self and others. It can also be associated with drug or alcohol abuse, eating disorders, self-harm or suicidal thoughts.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), BPD affects about 1.6 per cent of people in the U.S., making it one of the most common types of personality disorders in America today. It’s estimated that about 75 per cent of those diagnosed with BPD are women—a statistic that may have something to do with the fact that women are more likely than men to seek mental health treatment if they need it.

Who Gets Borderline Personality Disorder and Why?

BPD is most common in young adulthood, with the mean age of onset at 25 years old. Women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with BPD (2:1 ratio).

People who have a relative with BPD are also more likely to develop it themselves, and individuals who were abused or neglected as children are more likely to develop the disorder.

Borderline Personality Risk Factors

Studies on Borderline Personality Disorder have found that it does run in families. This means there is a genetic component to the illness, but it’s not likely that BPD is caused by one gene and you can’t inherit the disorder from one parent alone. There are several genetic markers associated with BPD, and they’ve been identified as being related to serotonin transporter levels, dopamine transporter levels, brain function and structure, and cell communication pathways in the prefrontal cortex (the area of your brain responsible for planning and decision making), among others.

It’s still unclear exactly how these genes interact with environmental factors like parenting style or early trauma to result in BPD symptoms later on in life. The current theory among researchers is that both nature (genes) and nurture (environmental factors) play an equal role in causing BPD — which makes sense when you consider that this disorder bridges the gap between psychiatry and neurology since people who have it often suffer from painful genetic and Environmental Factors

Genetic factors are not the only cause of BPD. Environmental factors also play a role in increasing the risk for developing BPD, including brain development and parenting style during childhood, as well as early trauma.

  • BPD is an illness that bridges the gap between psychiatry and neurology.

In addition to genetic inheritance, environmental triggers can lead children with borderline personality disorder (BPD) to develop symptoms of this disorder by adolescence or young adulthood. For example:

  • Stressful events such as abuse or neglect during childhood can increase the risk of developing BPD later in life.
  • Aspects of parenting style including inconsistent discipline and harsh punishment may increase a child’s vulnerability to developing symptoms of BPD later on conditions such as fibromyalgia too!

Borderline Personality Disorder Symptoms

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental health condition that causes intense mood swings, impulsive behaviours, and severe problems with self-worth. It’s also known as an emotionally unstable personality disorder (EUPD). It’s estimated that about 1.6% of adults in the U.S. have BPD—that’s almost 6 million people! The rate of BPD is higher among women than men: about 60% of people with BPD are female.

People with a borderline personality disorder may experience angry outbursts or become depressed for no apparent reason, then switch back to feeling happy without warning. Their relationships are often chaotic because they can be difficult to deal with when they’re feeling moody or stressed out; this can push friends away over time and make it hard to maintain close friendships.

People who have borderline personality disorder may feel like they don’t belong anywhere despite wanting to be loved by others—they might try different relationships just so they feel wanted by someone else.

How is BPD Diagnosed?

If you are concerned that you or a loved one may have a borderline personality disorder, it is important to see a doctor who specializes in mental health. A diagnosis of BPD often takes time and multiple visits to rule out other illnesses that may be causing symptoms similar to those of BPD. The doctor will want to ask questions about your symptoms and past experiences, including traumatic events and family history of mental illness.

The medical exam will likely include blood work and possibly an electrocardiogram (ECG), which measures heart function. The doctor might also ask for information about your diet, exercise routine and current medications so he or she can rule out certain conditions that share some of the same symptoms as BPD. If a physical cause is found for your symptoms, it could affect the course of treatment for BPD. Asking friends or family members who know you well to come with you may help ensure that all relevant information is shared with the doctor during this process.

Borderline Personality Disorder DSM-5 Criteria

The symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder include (but are not limited to):

  • An unstable sense of self
  • Impulsive, often reckless behaviour
  • Intense but unstable relationships with family, friends and lovers
  • Mood swings that can come on suddenly and last for hours or days at a time

These symptoms need to be present for at least one year in order to be diagnosed. The symptoms may cause significant distress or impairment in your ability to function socially, professionally or personally. These symptoms must also be separate from other medical conditions that could explain why you are feeling them (e.g., depression due to substance abuse). Finally, these symptoms cannot just be due to another mental disorder such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia — they must stand out from those diagnoses as well.

Borderline Personality Disorder Treatment

A wide range of treatment options is available to people with BPD. The most important thing is to find a therapist who will listen and learn about your specific needs, and then help you implement strategies that work for your situation.

There are no medications specifically for BPD, but some medications may be used as part of treatment. In addition to medication management, many people with BPD benefit from psychological treatments such as dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), which teaches coping skills like mindfulness meditation and distress tolerance techniques; interpersonal psychotherapy; cognitive behavioural therapy; psychodynamic therapy; solution-focused therapy; schema-focused therapy and acceptance-based approaches.

What Are the Best Borderline Personality Disorder Treatment Options?

Therapy is an important part of treatment for BPD. It can be used alone or in addition to other treatments such as medications. If you’re considering therapy, ask your doctor about the types of therapies that may be appropriate for you based on your symptoms and goals.

CBT is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on changing thought patterns that contribute to negative emotions and behaviours

Some of the mental health conditions that sometimes overlap or become a co-morbidity with BPD include:

  • Depression or anxiety disorders
  • Substance abuse disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Other personality disorders. It has been shown to help with BPD symptoms such as:
    • Mood swings
    • Anxiety
    • Impulsive behaviour

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been shown to reduce suicidal thoughts in people with BPD compared to other treatments or no treatment at all (a control group). It also improves social skills, problem-solving skills, emotional intelligence and coping strategies.


What is it like to have a borderline personality disorder?

BPD is an intense, chronic and debilitating condition that affects many people all over the world. It’s also a very misunderstood condition, with high rates of suicide and self-harm. But it’s treatable to some extent, and there are support groups for people with BPD and their loved ones.

While no two people with BPD will experience exactly the same symptoms or respond to treatment in the same way, those who have it do share some common characteristics: They often have impulsive behaviours – such as spending sprees, substance abuse problems or unsafe sex – which can lead to relationship issues with family members or friends. They may also feel intense emotions like anger when they think others don’t care about them enough. These problems can cause significant distress both for people who have borderline personality disorder themselves as well as those around them (in other words: their families).

How can I help someone with a borderline personality disorder?

  • Be patient.
  • A borderline personality disorder may be a long-term condition, and it will take time for your loved one to understand what’s going on and how they can manage their symptoms.
  • Don’t take things personally.
  • People with borderline personality disorder tend to have intense feelings, including anger and jealousy, but because of their difficulty identifying their emotions or controlling them in healthy ways, they often express themselves in an extreme way that may seem personal to you (e.g., blaming you for something that happened). They may also blame themselves more than is reasonable; if you try to explain why something happened (e.g., “It wasn’t my fault”), be prepared for the person with BPD to reject this explanation because he or she will feel like you’re lying or trying not blame him/herself enough for whatever went wrong at the time of your interaction—even if what he or she said was hurtful!
  • Don’t try to fix someone with borderline personality disorder yourself—seek professional help instead!

How is BPD treated?

A borderline personality disorder is not usually treated with medication. It’s more often treated with talk therapy and medications to treat symptoms like depression or anxiety.

  • Talk therapy. The most common forms of talk therapy for BPD include cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT). These can help you learn healthier ways to cope with your emotions, reduce self-destructive behaviours, improve relationships with other people and manage stress better.
  • Medications. No one medication works best for everyone with BPD because it affects people differently depending on their genetic makeup and other factors. Some doctors may prescribe antidepressants or mood stabilizers that aren’t used as much anymore because they don’t work as well as newer medications do when treating anxiety disorders such as PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). In some cases, anti-anxiety pills are prescribed instead if there’s no sign of depression at all in your life history; these might include benzodiazepines like Valium or Ativan that act quickly but have addictive qualities so they should be taken only under supervision by a doctor who knows what he/she is doing!

How common is a borderline personality disorder?

It is estimated that 2% of the population has a borderline personality disorder. Though this number may seem low, it can be difficult to diagnose and many BPD sufferers are never diagnosed. The causes of BPD are unknown, but there is a genetic risk of developing the disorder if a family member has it.

Typical symptoms include:

  • Impulsivity – such as excessive spending or binge-eating
  • An unstable sense of self – feelings of emptiness and dissociation due to an unstable sense of self
  • Mood swings – from depression to irritability (may alternate between these states)

A person with BPD will often:

  • Feel empty inside; this can lead to frequent changes in jobs or relationships because nothing seems fulfilling enough to bring meaning into life or relieve emotional pain

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