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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.  


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.

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