Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

by | Updated Jan 26, 2023

Borderline Personality Disorder

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Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental health condition identified by a pattern of instability in moods, behaviors, self-image, and relationships. People with BPD may have a hard time regulating their emotions, may engage in impulsive behaviors, and may have a fear of abandonment. BPD is a serious condition that can have a significant impact on a person’s personal and professional life.

Symptoms

  • Extreme mood swings
  • Constant fear of abandonment
  • Feelings of emptiness
  • Anger outbursts
  • Stress-related paranoia

Behavioral Symptoms

  • Impulsive behaviors (such as reckless driving, substance abuse, and binge eating)
  • Self-harming behaviors (such as cutting or burning)
  • Suicidal ideation or attempts
  • Intense and unstable relationships
  • Difficulty with impulse control

Causes

Borderline personality disorder is not fully understood. However, psychologists and researchers believe that it may stem from a variety of factors including genetics, environment and social influences.

Genetic Factors

Studies have shown that BPD may have a genetic component, as the disorder tends to run in families. Research suggests that certain genetic variations may make a person more susceptible to developing BPD.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors such as childhood abuse, neglect, and abandonment may increase the risk of developing BPD. Childhood trauma can lead to a lack of proper nurturing, validation and support, resulting in difficulties in regulating emotions and forming healthy relationships in adulthood.

Psychological Factors

Certain psychological factors such as poor coping mechanisms, maladaptive thought patterns, and lack of emotional regulation can also contribute to the development of BPD. Additionally, people with BPD may have a heightened sense of vulnerability, sensitivity and impulsivity which can make them more susceptible to developing the disorder.

Brain Structure and Function

Research suggests that there may be differences in the brain structure and function in people with BPD. Studies have found that certain areas of the brain involved in regulating emotions and impulse control may be different in people with BPD. Additionally, research suggests that people with BPD may have an overactive stress response and a heightened sensitivity to emotional stimuli.

Examples

Here are some real world examples of how borderline personality disorder may present. These are not exclusive to the disorder but may help you spot and understand coming into contact with someone with BPD.

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Scenario 1

Jane has always had a hard time regulating her emotions. She experiences intense mood swings and has a constant fear of abandonment. She engages in impulsive behaviors, such as reckless driving and substance abuse, and has a history of self-harming behaviors.

Scenario 2

Mike has always had a hard time with relationships. He becomes easily attached to others and becomes deeply hurt when relationships end. He has a history of intense and unstable relationships and has difficulty with impulse control.

“I feel like I’m on a rollercoaster, and I can’t get off.” – Jane

Effects on self

BPD can have a significant impact on a person’s self-esteem and self-worth. People with BPD may have a hard time regulating their emotions and may engage in impulsive behaviors that can lead to negative consequences. They may also have a hard time forming healthy relationships and may struggle with feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Effects on friends, partners, and family

People with BPD may have a hard time maintaining healthy relationships, as their intense emotions and fear of abandonment can be overwhelming for others. They may also engage in impulsive behaviors that can cause damage to these relationships. Additionally, the difficulty with impulse control and the tendency to self-harm can cause significant concern and stress for friends, partners, and family members.

Impact on Friendships

People with BPD may have a hard time maintaining friendships, as their intense emotions and fear of abandonment can be draining for others. They may also engage in impulsive behaviors that can cause damage to these relationships.

Impact on Romantic Relationships

In romantic relationships, people with BPD may have a hard time regulating their emotions and may engage in impulsive behaviors that can cause damage to the relationship. They may also have a fear of abandonment and become clingy or possessive, leading to conflicts in the relationship.

Impact on Family Relationships

In family relationships, people with BPD may have a hard time regulating their emotions and may engage in impulsive behaviors that can cause damage to the relationship. They may also have a tendency to self-harm, causing concern and stress for their loved ones. The fear of abandonment and the tendency to become clingy or possessive can also cause conflicts within the family.

Impact on Children

The effects of BPD on family members can be particularly hard on children. If a parent has BPD, the child may experience emotional neglect or abuse, instability and inconsistency in care giving, and difficulty in developing healthy attachments. Children of parents with BPD may also be at an increased risk of developing mental health issues themselves, and may benefit from counseling and support services.

Employment

People with BPD may have a hard time maintaining stability in their employment due to the intense emotional and behavioral symptoms associated with the disorder. They may struggle with impulse control, leading to impulsive behavior in the workplace, and have a hard time maintaining focus and attention to tasks. Additionally, their intense emotions may make it difficult for them to manage stress and conflicts in the workplace.

Treatment

Treatment for BPD typically involves talk therapy with a mental health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist. The main goal of treatment is to help the person regulate their emotions, reduce impulsive behaviors, and improve relationships.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a common form of treatment for BPD that focuses on helping the person to regulate their emotions, reduce impulsive behaviors, and improve relationships. DBT combines cognitive-behavioral techniques with mindfulness and acceptance strategies to help the person manage their intense emotions and improve their relationships.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is another form of treatment that can help people with BPD to recognize and change negative thought patterns and behaviors. CBT focuses on helping the person understand how their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are interconnected and can help them to identify and change negative patterns of thinking and behavior.

Medication

While medication may not be the primary treatment for BPD, it may be helpful in managing symptoms such as depression, anxiety, or impulsivity. Antidepressant medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and mood stabilizers like Lithium and Valproic acid are commonly used to help manage the symptoms of BPD. Antipsychotic medications such as Risperidone and Olanzapine may also be prescribed to help with impulsivity and aggression. However, it is important to note that medication alone is not a sufficient treatment for BPD and it should typically be combined with talk therapy for best results.

Summary

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental health condition that can have a significant impact on a person’s personal and professional life. People with BPD may struggle with intense emotions, impulsive behaviors, and a fear of abandonment. Treatment for BPD typically involves talk therapy and may also include medication to manage symptoms. With the right treatment, people with BPD can learn to manage their symptoms, improve their relationships, and overall quality of life. It’s important to seek help from a mental health professional as soon as possible in order to address the underlying causes and symptoms of BPD.

 

Herman, J. L., & Van der Kolk, B. A. (1987). Borderline Personality Disorder. Psychological trauma, 111

Leichsenring, F., Leibing, E., Kruse, J., New, A. S., & Leweke, F. (2011). Borderline personality disorder. The Lancet, 377(9759), 74-84.

What Is Borderline Personality Disorder? (2021, April 21). WebMD. Retrieved January 17, 2023, from https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/borderline-personality-disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD): In the Midst of Vulnerability, Chaos, and Awe – PubMed. (2018, November 18). PubMed. Retrieved January 17, 2023, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30453675/

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