Borderline Personality Disorder


What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental illness that causes intense emotional instability (mood swings), impulsive behaviors, and severe problems with self-worth and relationships. They are “not crazy” but people with BPD often have a negative view of themselves, may feel “broken” And usually have volatile and chaotic relationships with others. People with BPD usually desire meaningful and loving relationships, but their anger, impulsiveness, and emotional instability often results in driving others away. BPD may leave the person feeling hopeless and discouraged. With proper treatment people with even the most severe symptoms improve over time.

How Prevalent is Borderline Personality Disorder?

It is estimated that more than 14 million American adults have BPD or traits of BPD. Females are three times more likely to be diagnosed with BPD. However, many researchers believe that males are under diagnosed due to gender differences in how emotions are expressed.

What Causes Borderline Personality Disorder?

It is believed that BPD is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. These environmental factors can vary significantly. For some BPD may be a linked to trauma (abuse or neglect), which resulted in difficulty coping and managing themselves and their environment. Other people with BPD may not have felt safe or nurtured at important times in their childhood, which left them without confidence in themselves or the skills to manage stress in everyday life.

How Do I Know if I Need Help?

BPD can negatively affect relationships, job and school performance, social activities and self-worth. Repeated job and relationship problems are some of the most common symptoms. Harmful behaviors toward oneself (i.e. cutting) are fairly common high risk behaviors associated with BPD. Because of risky, impulsive behavior, people with BPD are more vulnerable to unplanned pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, accidents and physical fights. People with BPD are also frequently involved in abusive relationships. If any of these scenarios sound familiar you should seek help.

What Are Some of the Signs and Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder?

At times, everyone has problems with emotions or behaviors. However, with BPD, the problems are severe, repeat over a long time, and cause major disruptions in your life. The most common symptoms include: intense emotions and mood swings; harmful and impulsive behaviors (i.e. alcohol and drugs, excessive spending, risky sexual behavior); extreme shifts in feelings about others (“all bad” to “all good”); fear of being abandoned; low self-worth; high sensitivity to rejection; and expression of anger that is out of proportion to the situation.

Getting the Help You Need

Counseling can help to reduce the intensity and frequency of mood swings and learn skills to better manage emotions. Mood stabilizing medication may help with mood swings and impulsivity that often occurs for people with BPD. Treatment may involve examining the problem behaviors and their triggers. In many cases social skills and learning how to have successful relationships can result in more fulfilling and stable lives. Counseling will likely also include working on self-acceptance and acknowledging the underlying negative emotions in a non-judgmental way, as well as developing self-soothing coping techniques for stress than are nondestructive. Dialectical Behavior Therapy is the most common counseling approach for working with people with BPD. With BPD, it is important to find a counselor to build a stable therapeutic relationship with and a professional to help you reach your goals.


Our wounds are often the openings into the best and most beautiful part of us.

― David Richo

Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol, morphine or idealism.”

― C.G. Jung

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