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Borderline Personality Disorder

Is There A Connection Between BPD and OCD?

Is There A Connection Between BPD and OCD?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as an anxiety disorder. It is a neuropsychiatric disorder affecting between 1 to 3 percent of the population. OCD is characterized as a mental illness involving recurrent unwanted thoughts and/ or actions. OCD is known as one of the most common mental illnesses in America. The precise cause as to why an individual develops obsessive-compulsive disorder remains unknown. Several risk factors that have been noted to increase one’s predisposition for developing OCD include:

  • Presence of other mental health disorder 
  • Family history of OCD (e.g., parent, child, and/ or sibling diagnosed with OCD)
  • Differences in the makeup of one’s brain
  • History of child abuse (e.g., physical, verbal, and/ or sexual)
  • Experience with trauma

It is also possible for OCD to develop in children because of a streptococcal infection. This is referred to as PANDAS (pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder associated with streptococcal infections). An individual with OCD will engage in repeated and compulsive rituals that greatly interfere with his or her daily life.

Borderline Personality Disorder

The DSM-5 lists ten personality disorders that are classified into clusters. Although each personality disorder has distinct characteristics, each of the different personality disorders is categorized into one of three clusters (cluster A, cluster B and cluster C). The personality disorders that make up each clusters share similar symptoms and have overlapping characteristics. Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is listed under cluster B in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, and is recognized as a chronic, mental health disorder. As defined by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH), “borderline personality disorder is an illness characterized by an ongoing pattern of varying moods, behavior, and self-image.” The cause for borderline personality disorder remains unknown. However, research “suggests that genetics, brain structure and function, and environmental, cultural, and social factors play a role, or may increase the risk for developing borderline personality disorder.” It is highly common for individuals with BPD to lack the ability to foster and maintain meaningful, lasting relationships. 

The Connection

Experts haveon noted that “personality disorders are a common comorbidity in obsessive-compulsive disorder.” The most evident connection between BPD and OCD relate to the symptoms present in both ailments. The Journal of Psychopathology asserts “Obsessive-compulsive symptoms are…considered intrinsically related to borderline psychopathology. These symptoms are severe and are characterized in BPD patients by poor insight and resistance and obsessive control evident in personal relationships.” The symptoms that manifest because of borderline personality disorder often mimic those of other mental health disorders, which can make the diagnosis process rather challenging. It is, however, possible to be diagnosed with BPD and OCD. In fact, studies show that between 75 and 90 percent of people with BPD also meet the diagnostic criteria for at least one type of anxiety disorder, such as OCD. Specifically, evidence of a higher-than-expected overlap between OCD and BPD first came from the Epidemiological Catchment Area study, where 23 percent of those with BPD also met criteria for OCD. Subsequent studies have consistently supported these findings with rates as high as 15 to 35 percent.  

Disclaimer:

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

BPD And PTSD: Are They Often Confused?

BPD And PTSD: Are They Often Confused?

Borderline personality disorder is a mental health disorder that is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). The National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) defines borderline personality disorder as an “illness marked by an ongoing pattern of varying moods, self-image, and behavior.” These patterns will often result in reckless and hasty actions, negatively affecting one’s relationships. The term “borderline” was initially coined because psychiatrists believed that its symptoms hovered on the border between psychosis and neurosis. The symptoms associated with borderline personality disorder can pervasively interfere with an individual’s ability to function optimally in his or her daily life. Common symptoms of borderline personality disorder can include any combination of the following examples, provided by the Mayo Clinic

  • Ongoing feelings of emptiness
  • Risky behavior (e.g., gambling, having unsafe sex, etc.)
  • Intense fear of being alone or abandoned
  • Fragile self-image
  • Unstable relationships
  • Erratic moods
  • Frequent displays of intense anger
  • Stress-related, fleeting paranoia
  • Suicidal behavior
  • Threats of self-injury

It is not uncommon for people with BPD to feel extremely intense emotions for extended periods of time. This makes returning to a stable emotional baseline far more challenging, especially after experiencing an emotionally triggering event. 

PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder as defined by the Mayo Clinic “is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event—either experiencing it or witnessing it.” PTSD is recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a diagnosable mental health condition and is listed under the new category called Trauma- and Stressor- Related Disorders. PTSD can occur when an individual has experienced severe stress or anxiety after being exposed to a traumatic event. The most widespread symptoms associated with PTSD could include any combination of the following examples, provided by the National Institute of Mental Health:

  • Agitation
  • Reckless behaviors
  • Regressions
  • Flashbacks to the event
  • Irritability
  • Irregular sleep
  • Physical aches and pains
  • Difficulty with physical contact
  • Depression 
  • Severe anxiety
  • Isolation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Low self-esteem
  • Constant feelings of fear and worry
  • Hyper vigilance
  • Experiencing crying spells
  • Tense muscles
  • Suicidal ideations
  • Exhaustion
  • Risky behavior
  • Social anxiety

The symptoms of PTSD can be incredibly distressing. Every individual who suffers from PTSD will have his or her own set of unique symptoms. Although borderline personality disorder (BPD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are two distinct mental health ailments with different characteristics they are often confused. This is primarily because they share a remarkably similar list of symptoms and triggers. While there is significant overlap in symptoms, the difference between BPD ad PTSD is that the symptoms of PTSD are provoked by external triggers and the symptoms of BPD stem from an inconsistent self-concept

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

Coping With Pregnancy And BPD

Coping With Pregnancy And BPD

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic mental health disorder. It characterized by a pervasive pattern of instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image issues, difficulty managing emotions and behaviors, and an inability to appropriately self-regulate. The symptoms that manifest because of borderline personality disorder often mimic those of other mental health disorders such as histrionic personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder and bipolar personality disorder. Individuals with borderline personality disorder feel prolonged, intense emotions and are unable to return to a neutral emotional baseline after facing an emotionally charged experience in a timely manner. This can affect all areas of one’s life as the duration it takes an individual with BPD to process, integrate, and recover from emotional challenges is elongated. Further, the symptoms associated with borderline personality disorder can interfere with an individual’s ability to function optimally in his or her daily life.

Impact Of BPD In Pregnancy

To effectively cope with pregnancy and BPD it is helpful to be aware of some of the effects that can occur when these two conditions coincide. Women with borderline personality disorder during pregnancy are faced with additional challenges, as risk of certain complications increase, and BPD symptoms influence various aspects of pregnancy. For example, leading experts assert “Women with borderline personality disorder during pregnancy have been found to be at increased risk of gestational diabetes, premature rupture of the membranes, chorioamnionitis, venous thromboembolism, caesarian section and preterm birth.” It is not uncommon for women with BPD to experience distress when touched. The anticipation of birth is often perceived as traumatic, and women will frequently request early delivery. 

What To Do

Pregnancy is a major period of transition in one’s life that is filled with wide ranging emotions. Along with the typical strains and stressors that can accompany pregnancy, individuals that simultaneously struggle with managing symptoms of BPD while pregnant are at increased risk of encountering avoidable challenges. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to help woman with BPD navigate her pregnancy and manage her symptoms. Consider the following suggestions:

  • Minimize the number of people caring for the pregnant woman: leaning on the same person or small group of people during the pregnancy can be helpful for women with BDP, as continuity of caretaker/s provides consistency and familiarity. 
  • Encourage the pregnant woman to identify and seek practical and/ or emotional support services.
  • Urge the pregnant woman to focus on making healthy daily choices (e.g., eating nutritiously, establish good sleeping patterns, etc.).
  • Engaging in regular exercise can be advantageous, as it promotes the release of endorphins and increases serotonin levels.

Although for some women with borderline personality disorder, the idea of getting pregnant may seem outlandish or dangerous, it is important to note that with the proper support, a woman with BPD is fully capable of having a perfectly healthy pregnancy. 

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

Helping A Partner Who Has BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder)

Helping A Partner Who Has BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder)

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic, mental disorder. As defined by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH), “borderline personality disorder is an illness characterized by an ongoing pattern of varying moods, behavior, and self-image.” Individuals with borderline personality disorder feel prolonged, intense emotions and are unable to return to a neutral emotional baseline after facing an emotionally charged experience in a timely manner. This can affect all areas of one’s life as the duration it takes an individual with BPD to process, integrate, and recover from emotional challenges is elongated. Individuals with borderline personality disorder often struggle with relationship issues, lack self-esteem, have a poor self-image, and have an inability to appropriately self-regulate. Borderline personality disorder is not an uncommon disorder, as the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) estimates that 1.4% of the adults in America experience BPD. 

Diagnostic Criteria 

There is no definitive medical test to diagnose borderline personality disorder. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), borderline personality disorder is diagnosed when an individual experiences “a pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image and affects, and marked impulsivity beginning by early adulthood” and must experience five or more of the following symptoms in a variety of contexts:

  • Emotional instability
  • Feelings of emptiness
  • Efforts to avoid abandonment
  • Impulsive behaviors
  • Identity disturbances
  • Inappropriate, irrational and/ or intense bouts of anger
  • Transient paranoid and/ or dissociative symptoms
  • Unstable interpersonal relationships
  • Suicidal and/ or self-harming behaviors

Due to its illusive nature, borderline personality disorder can be extremely difficult to diagnose. As such, to obtain the most accurate mental health diagnosis it is imperative to undergo a comprehensive evaluation that is conducted by one or more qualified mental health professionals. 

What You Can Do

Despite the challenges that BPD can bring to a relationship maintaining self-care practices and utilizing effective communication skills are essential for both partners, and integral to the health of the relationship. Consider the following suggestions to help you navigate your partner’s BPD:

  • Increase empathy: learn as much as you can about borderline personality disorder to increase empathy in your partnership
  • Remain calm: do not engage in serious conversations unless your partner is calm 
  • Be supportive: provide your partner with emotional support and understanding, and be sure to let your partner know that you fully support their treatment 
  • Avoid shame and blame: remember that labeling and blaming is not productive nor will it help to de-escalate or resolve any situation
  • Take threats seriously: threats of self-harm should not be minimized or ignored, and should prompt you to seek immediate professional help

It is important to bear in mind that although BPD is a chronic condition, with proper support, is it possible for an individual diagnosed with borderline personality disorder to learn strategies, techniques, and tools to effectively manage the symptoms associated with BPD, reducing the severity of symptoms experienced and increasing one’s quality of life.

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

Are Binge Eating and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) Connected?

Are Binge Eating and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) Connected?

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic mental health disorder. It characterized by a pervasive pattern of instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image issues, and difficulty managing emotions and behaviors, which interfere with one’s ability to function in everyday life. Although there is no single cause of borderline personality disorder, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) alludes to research that “suggests that genetics, brain structure and function, and environmental, cultural, and social factors play a role, or may increase the risk for developing borderline personality disorder.” Akin to BPD, the exact cause behind why individuals develop eating disorders remains unknown, but research has found that it is likely due to a combination of psychological, biological, and environmental factors. 

 

Binge eating disorder (BED) is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a severe, life-threatening eating disorder. According to National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), it is characterized by “recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food (often very quickly and to the point of discomfort); a feeling of a loss of control during the binge; experiencing shame, distress or guilt afterwards and not regularly using unhealthy compensatory measures (e.g., purging) to counter the binge eating.” Binge eating disorder is currently known to be the most common eating disorder in the United States.

 

Are They Connected?

Yes, binge eating, and borderline personality disorder are connected. More so, research has found an undeniably strong relationship between borderline personality disorder and dysregulated eating behaviors, such as binge eating. The symptoms of BPD often result in reckless and hasty actions, negatively affecting one’s relationships. Some highly regarded professionals in the mental health field suggest that it may be that the symptoms of BPD play an active role in the development of binge eating disorder. For example, common symptoms of BPD such as chronic impulsivity and urges to self-harm could lead to an individual engaging in detrimental eating behaviors, which would subsequently increase one’s susceptibility for developing an eating disorder. Conversely, engaging in dysregulated eating behaviors may cause an individual to experience overwhelming stress, which may trigger BPD in someone with a genetic vulnerability for the disorder. The prevalence of eating disorders is about 6 to 11% in those with borderline personality disorder, which is far greater than individuals with an eating disorder in the general public that amount to an approximate 2 to 4%. Hence, the rate of BPD in people with eating disorders is notably elevated when compared to the general population.

 

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

Borderline Personality Disorder Triggers

Borderline Personality Disorder Triggers

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious psychological condition that is characterized by pervasive instability in moods, emotions, behaviors, and interpersonal relationships. Individuals with borderline personality disorder feel prolonged, intense emotions and are unable to return to a neutral emotional baseline after facing an emotionally charged experience in a timely manner. This can affect all areas of one’s life as the duration it takes an individual with BPD to process, integrate, and recover from emotional challenges is elongated. Individuals with borderline personality disorder often struggle with relationship issues, lack self-esteem, have a poor self-image, and have an inability to appropriately self-regulate. Borderline personality disorder is not an uncommon disorder, as the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) estimates that 1.4% of the adult population in America experience BPD. 

BPD Triggers

Johns Hopkins Medicine explains “Triggers are external events or circumstances that may produce very uncomfortable emotional or psychiatric symptoms, such as anxiety, panic, discouragement, despair, or negative self-talk.” Many borderline personality disorder triggers arise from interpersonal distress. While BPD triggers can vary from person to person, there are some types of triggers that are common in BPD. Examples of commonly reported BPD triggers can include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Perceived or real abandonment
  • Rejection of any kind
  • Loss of a job
  • Locations that invoke negative memories
  • Reminders of traumatic events
  • Ending a relationship

A trigger, in relation to BPD typically refers to something that precipitates the exacerbation of one’s BPD symptoms.

Symptoms

The symptoms associated with borderline personality disorder can pervasively interfere with an individual’s ability to function optimally in his or her daily life. Common symptoms of borderline personality disorder can include any combination of the following examples, provided by the Mayo Clinic

  • Ongoing feelings of emptiness
  • Risky behavior (e.g., gambling, having unsafe sex, etc.)
  • Intense fear of being alone or abandoned
  • Fragile self-image
  • Unstable relationships
  • Erratic moods
  • Frequent displays of intense anger
  • Stress-related, fleeting paranoia
  • Suicidal behavior
  • Threats of self-injury

It is not uncommon for people with BPD to feel extremely intense emotions for extended periods of time. This makes returning to a stable emotional baseline far more challenging, especially after experiencing an emotionally triggering event. The symptoms that manifest because of borderline personality disorder often mimic those of other mental health disorders such as histrionic personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder and bipolar personality disorder, which can make the diagnosis process rather challenging. 

Diagnostic Criteria

There is no definitive medical test to diagnose borderline personality disorder. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), borderline personality disorder is diagnosed when an individual experiences “a pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image and affects, and marked impulsivity beginning by early adulthood” and must experience five or more of the following symptoms in a variety of contexts:

  • Emotional instability
  • Feelings of emptiness
  • Efforts to avoid abandonment
  • Impulsive behaviors
  • Identity disturbances
  • Inappropriate, irrational and/ or intense bouts of anger
  • Transient paranoid and/ or dissociative symptoms
  • Unstable interpersonal relationships
  • Suicidal and/ or self-harming behaviors

Due to its illusive nature, borderline personality disorder can be extremely difficult to diagnose. As such, to obtain the most accurate mental health diagnosis it is imperative to undergo a comprehensive evaluation that is conducted by one or more qualified mental health professionals. 

Disclaimer:

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

 

What Type Of Therapy Is Best For Borderline Personality Disorder?

Borderline Personality Disorder abbreviated

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic, mental health disorder. As defined by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH), “borderline personality disorder is an illness characterized by an ongoing pattern of varying moods, behavior, and self-image.” It is highly common for individuals with BPD to lack the ability to foster and maintain meaningful, lasting relationships. The symptoms that are associated with borderline personality disorder make it difficult to diagnose. In order to secure the most effective treatment an individual must obtain an accurate diagnosis from a qualified mental healthcare provider. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to approve a medication explicitly designed to treat borderline personality disorder. While there are other types of therapeutic modalities that can be helpful in treating someone with BPD (e.g., schema-focused therapy, mentalization-based therapy, etc.), the most frequently relied upon type of psychotherapy used to treat BPD is called dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). Treatment for BPD will help an individual learn strategies, techniques, and tools to effectively manage the symptoms associated with borderline personality disorder, reducing the severity of symptoms experienced and increasing one’s quality of life. 

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy that places greater emphasis on the psychosocial aspect of therapy. Marsha M. Linehan initially developed it in the 1980s, to help treat chronically suicidal people with borderline personality disorder. Since its inception, dialectical behavior therapy has been and remains the gold standard method of treatment for individuals diagnosed with BPD and has also proven effective in treating individuals with other mental health conditions. DBT utilizes four main strategies for teaching individuals’ skills that help with effectively changing their behaviors. They include the following, as provided by Behavioral Tech

  1. Core mindfulness: the practice of being completely present and aware in the moment. 
  2. Distress tolerance: becoming tolerant of pain in difficult situations instead of attempting to change it.
  3. Emotion regulation: decreasing emotional impulsivity, learning to manage and shift intense, problematic emotions. 
  4. Interpersonal effectiveness: authentically advocating for one’s own wants and needs in a relationship in a way that is both self-respecting and non-damaging.

DBT is comprised of three distinct settings: weekly individual therapy sessions, weekly DBT group skills training sessions, and as-needed phone coaching. The entire DBT program (provided skills modules are not repeated) usually lasts about six months long, as approximately six weeks are allocated to each of the four skills modules. DBT is based on the notion that change can be balanced with self-acceptance. It can help people learn how to regulate emotions and foster change. This gives individuals struggling with BPD the opportunity to build meaningful and stable lives. Although BPD is considered to be a chronic condition, there are a variety of treatment options available to a person diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. 

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health.  As such, please do not use any material provided above as a means to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

Common Signs Of Borderline Personality Disorder

man with borderline personality disorder

Borderline personality disorder is one of ten personality disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). Each of the ten personality disorders is categorized into one of three clusters (cluster A, cluster B and cluster C). The personality disorders that make up each clusters share similar symptoms and have overlapping characteristics. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) cluster A is characterized as odd or eccentric personalities; cluster B is characterized as dramatic, emotional, or erratic personalities; and cluster C is characterized as anxious or fearful personalities. Borderline personality disorder is classified as a cluster C personality disorder. The National Institute of Mental Health explains, “Borderline personality disorder is an illness marked by an ongoing pattern of varying moods, self-image, and behavior.” The cause of borderline personality disorder remains unknown. There are, however, certain risk factors (e.g. brain structure and function, genetics, environmental, cultural and social influences, etc.) that have been noted as potentially contributing to its development. Due to the illusive nature of its symptoms paired with the fact that many symptoms overlap with other mental health ailments, BPD is notoriously known as one of the most difficult mental health illnesses to diagnose. 

Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of borderline personality disorder typically result in overarching interpersonal relationship complications and impulsive actions. The Mayo Clinic provides examples of signs and symptoms that are commonly exhibited in individuals with borderline personality disorder, some of which include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Engaging in risky and/ or impulsive behaviors (i.e. reckless driving, excessive gambling, binge eating, substance abuse, unsafe sex…etc.)
  • Intense fear of abandonment
  • Suicidal ideations
  • Self-injury
  • Severe mood swings (i.e. elation, irritability, shame, anxiety…etc.)
  • Pattern of unstable relationships
  • Irrational displays of anger
  • Distorted self image
  • Feelings of emptiness
  • Stress related paranoia

Some individuals may experience numerous symptoms of BPD, while others may only experience a few symptoms. Research has indicated that individuals with borderline personality disorder may experience intense episodes of depression, anxiety and/ or anger that could last from a few hours to several days long. Every individual is different and has the propensity to exhibit a unique combination of signs and symptoms related to borderline personality disorder.

Treatment

Although borderline personality disorder is considered a chronic mental health condition, there are a variety of treatment options available for individuals diagnosed with BPD, which can help individuals, learn to manage their symptoms. The most common method of treatment for borderline personality disorder is dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). Marsha M. Linehan developed DBT in the late 1980s, specifically to better treat chronically suicidal individuals with borderline personality disorder. Dialectical behavior therapy is based on the cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) approach, and places greater emphasis on the psychosocial aspect of therapy. With proper treatment, an individual diagnosed with borderline personality disorder can learn to effectively navigate his or her symptoms of BPD and go on to lead a happy and fulfilling life. 

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health.  As such, please do not use any material provided above as a means to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

What Causes Borderline Personality Disorder?

woman with hands in face

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental health illness that is one of ten personality disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). According to National Institute of Mental Health (NIH), BPD is characterized by “pervasive instability in moods, interpersonal relationships, self-image, and behavior.” This instability interferes with one’s ability to function in his or her daily life, long-term planning, as wells as an individual’s sense of identity. Individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder often experience swift mood swings, including intense episodes of depression, anger and/ or anxiety that could last as short as a couple of hours to as long as several days. The symptoms associated with BPD frequently result in highly unstable patterns of social relationships. This chronic condition is also associated with high rates of self-injury and suicidal behavior.

Signs and Symptoms

Every individual is different and will exhibit a somewhat unique set of BPD signs and symptoms. The Mayo Clinic provides several commonly reported signs and symptoms to include the following:

  • Intense fear of abandonment
  • Rapid changes in self-image and self-identity 
  • Impulsive, risky and/ or dangerous behavior (i.e. engaging in unprotected sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, gambling, etc.)
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Wide and extreme mood swings
  • Periods of stress-related paranoia
  • Self-inflicted social isolation
  • Ongoing feelings of emptiness
  • Irrational, inappropriate, and/ or intense bouts of anger

It is important to note that any combination of the above signs and symptoms could manifest as a result of BPD. The severity and length of time they persist will vary, as they will depend on each individual. 

Causes

While there is no singular reason behind why an individual develops borderline personality disorder, there are several contributing factors that have been noted as potentially increasing one’s susceptibility to BPD. These factors can include, but are not limited to the follow, as provided by the National Institute of Mental Health

  • Genetics: people with a family history (i.e. parent, sibling, etc.) with BPD may be at increased risk of developing borderline personality disorder. Psychology Today assert that BPD is approximately five times more common among people with close biological relatives with BPD. 
  • Environmental factors: growing up in an unstable, neglectful, and/ or abusive environment could increase one’s risk for developing BPD. 
  • Brain factors: some studies have indicated that individuals diagnosed with BPD have structural and/ or functional abnormalities, specifically in the areas of the brain that reign over one’s emotional regulation and impulse control. Furthermore, deviations from typical serotonin (hormone that works to stabilize one’s mood, happiness and feelings of well-being) production could increase one’s susceptibility to BPD. 

Treatment

The nuanced needs of an individual diagnosed with borderline personality disorder will inform his or her individualized treatment plan. Individualized treatment plans could comprise of a variety of therapeutic modalities some of which could include individual psychotherapy, group therapy, and/ or creative arts therapies. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), a form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), was specifically designed to help treat individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Since it was developed in the late 1980s, it is highly common for DBT to be integrated into one’s treatment plan, as it has become the gold standard for treating BPD. Components such as nutritious eating habits, frequent self-care practices, engaging in regular exercise, obtaining ample sleep, and practicing various relaxation techniques (i.e. yoga, meditation, etc.) can also be included in one’s treatment plan. Recovery from BPD will require steadfast commitment, and will be a life-long process. With proper mental health treatment and support, an individual diagnosed with borderline personality disorder can go on to live a healthy and fulfilling life.