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Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

What is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)?

It is believed that about 2% of adults are affected with BPD. BPD is considered to be a serious mental illness in which an individual has an instability in moods, self-image, behavior, and interpersonal relationships. As a result, individuals have a hard time with their sense of identity, their family, work life, and maybe even their long-term planning. Also, because individuals with BPD tend to view things to the extreme and change their opinions of people fairly quickly, they can have intense and unstable relationships. For example, one day they may view a person as a friend, but the next day they will easily consider them an enemy or a traitor.

Interestingly, BPD tends to affect both males and females however, it is more common in females (75% of cases are among women).

What are the symptoms of BPD?

  • Individuals tend to express uncertainty as to how they view themselves
  • Mood swings
  • Tend to make intense efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
  • Intense and unstable relationships with loved ones
  • Impulsive and often engage in dangerous behaviors such as substance abuse and unsafe sex
  • Self-harming behavior such as cutting themselves
  • Recurring thoughts of suicide
  • Intense and highly changeable mood that may last hours or days
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • Tend to have difficulty in controlling their anger
  • Have a hard time trusting other individuals
  • Tend to have feeling of dissociation

What causes BPD?

Although the exact known cause is not yet clear, research suggests that the following may play a role:

  • Family history
    • Individuals who have a close relative such as a parent or sibling, are at higher risk of developing such disorder
  • Brain factors
  • Environmental, Cultural, and Social Factors
    • Individuals who may have experiences a traumatic event during childhood (i.e. abuse, abandonment, or adversity) are at a higher risk than those who haven’t
    • Individuals who have been exposed to hostile conflicts, unstable and invalidating relationships are also at a higher risk

It is important to note that not just because an individual may have experienced one of the above, means that they will develop BPD.

How is BPD treated?

  • Evidence-Based Treatment
  • Psychotherapy
    • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
      • Teaches the individual to control intense emotion
      • Allows for an individual to reduce self-destructive behaviors
      • Helps an individual improve their relationships
    • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
      • Allows an individual to identify and change core belief and behaviors that underlie inaccurate perceptions of themselves
    • Medications
      • Although they are not typically used as a primary treatment for BPD, psychiatrist may recommend medication to treat certain symptoms such as depression, mood swing, or other co-occurring mental disorders

How can I help my loved one cope with BPD or help myself?

  • Offer emotional support
  • Educate yourself and your loved ones about the mental disorder
  • Ask your primary caregiver about family therapy or encourage your loved one to ask their primary caregiver about family therapy
  • Seek professional help, but not the same one as your loved one