Borderline Personality Disorder

Updated: Mar 27

What Is It?

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is defined as a mental illness that affects an individual’s ability to manage emotions effectively, generally within relationships they have with others. About 1.6% of the U.S. population (about 5.3 million Americans) experience BPD at some time in their life, and it typically begins in adolescence or early adulthood. Although individuals with BPD can often be high-functioning in public spaces, BPD can affect just one, or all of their relationships with others due to impulsive and sometimes reckless behavior, as well as problems with the regulation of one’s emotions.


Symptoms of BPD

Some behavioral symptoms of BPD can be: antisocial behavior, compulsive behavior, hostility, impulsivity, irritability, risk taking behaviors, self-destructive behavior, self-harm, social isolation, or lack of restraint. Symptoms associated with mood can be anger, anxiety, general discontent, guilt, loneliness, mood swings, or sadness.. Psychological symptoms are depression, distorted self-image, grandiosity, or narcissism, and in some cases, thoughts of suicide. All or only a few of these symptoms may occur in a person with BPD — it varies by individual.


Causes of BPD

Although the exact cause of Borderline Personality Disorder has not been determined; research and experts suggest that Childhood experiences such as abuse, bullying, neglect, and other forms of trauma, brain function and structure as well as environmental, cultural, and social factors may be contributing factors that can cause the development of BPD in an individual. Genetics may also be involved.




Treatment of BPD

Borderline Personality Disorder can be treated effectively with a combination of psychotherapy, peer and family support and medications (when necessary). BPD also often co-occurs with other conditions such as depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, substance abuse and other personality disorders, which are also addressed by the individual’s treatment plan. Although most people with BPD can be treated through outpatient care, if symptoms are severe, hospitalization can also help and provide a safe environment. However, although BPD can be treated well with these methods, symptoms can reappear after stressful situations, and individuals should go back to the course of treatment that helped them manage these symptoms.


MPD is also often misdiagnosed, because it shares characteristics with other mental illnesses like Bipolar Disorder, which also has the symptom of sudden mood changes, but there are significant differences between the two, and misdiagnosing can cause a delay in an individual’s path to managing BPD.




There are several types of psychotherapy that can help individuals who have BPD. These are some of them:


Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT): Focuses on teaching individuals with BPD coping skills that combat counterproductive urges, regulating emotions, and improving relationships. Mindfulness techniques such as meditation, regulated breathing, and self-soothing are utilized in DBT, as well as individual/group work. .

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): Focuses on recognizing and addressing negative thoughts and learn effective coping mechanisms that help them address negative thoughts as well as other behaviors associated with BPD.

Mentalization-based therapy (MBT): Focuses on teaching individuals how to recognize negative thoughts. It also teaches them how to develop empathy for other people’s experiences. MBT is utilized to explore emotions and develop alternative explanations for negative interactions with others.


With the right treatment, Borderline Personality Disorder can be managed effectively, and many individuals with BPD experience a decrease in their impulsive behaviors as they reach their 40’s and older.


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