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Borderline Personality Disorder

Facts on Borderline Personality Disorder

  • Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental illness that is marked by a chronic pattern of unstable relationships, poor self-image, and mood changes.
  • It is also characterized by severe impulsivity. As with other personality disorders, BPD usually begins in early adulthood. Similar to the prevalence of schizophrenia in the population, BPD is thought to affect about 1% of the population and 15% of patients in psychiatric hospitals. In contrast to how often women seek treatment for schizophrenia, women tend to seek treatment for BPD at a rate much higher than men, so the estimates on how many men suffer from this disorder may be lower than the actual numbers.
  • Individuals with BPD struggle with many difficulties. For example, women with the disorder are at risk for feeling less satisfied by, and more often coerced into, sexual relationships.
  • One in 10 people with BPD commits suicide,and frequently engages in self-injurious behaviors like cutting themselves or overdosing on medication. People with this disorder who attempt suicide are more likely to have a history of sexual abuse compared to the general population.
  • Adults with BPD also might have other personality disorders like
    • histrionic personality disorder,
    • narcissistic personality disorder, and
    • antisocial personality disorder.
  • In addition to those mental health problems, children with BPD seem to be specifically at risk for having several other personality disorders, including passive aggressive personality disorder and schizotypal personality disorder.
  • Although BPD has been thought by some to be a variation of bipolar disorder, research suggests that each of these disorders is indeed distinct. In contrast to bipolar disorder, which is classically characterized by emotions alternating between elation and depression, BPD tends to be associated with marked changes in mood between anxiety and anger or anxiety and depression.
  • There are a lot of similarities between BPD an posttraumatic stress disorders (PTSD), leading to a belief that BPD might be an actual form of PTSD.

What Causes Borderline Personality Disorder?

Like most other mental disorders, BPD has no one specific cause but tends to have a number of biological, psychological, and social contributing factors. Biological risk factors for BPD include a family history of this diagnosis, substance abuse, antisocial personality disorder, impulsivity, or mood instability. Many consequences of being the victim of childhood abuse can be features of BPD. Specifically, childhood abuse can result in the sufferer having difficulty regulating their own emotions, a tendency to harm oneself, and problems forming healthy bonds with others. Other symptoms that childhood abuse victims and individuals with BPD have in common may include trouble understanding their thoughts and feelings and those of others, having an unstable self-image, trouble expressing both positive and negative feelings, and having trouble understanding and managing their feelings about themselves and others, also called splitting.

Although a history of being the victim of child abuse (for example, physical, sexual, or emotional) is a psychological risk factor for BPD, it is also a contributing factor for a number of other emotional problems. Socially, being part of what is considered to be a modern or rapidly changing culture is thought to be associated with the development of BPD as well.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/21/2016

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Initial Treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder

Initial treatment depends on how bad your condition is. When borderline personality disorder is diagnosed, you most likely will begin treatment with professional counseling (psychotherapy). The first goal of therapy is to help you control destructive behaviors, especially if you are feeling suicidal or self-destructive. When you are less likely to harm yourself and you are able to function more normally, treatment will focus on managing your emotions, such as controlling feelings of anger or unhappiness.



Medical Dictionary