Mental Health, Mental Health Awareness

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Content warning: please be advised that this article contains mentions of suicide.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), as defined by the Mayo Clinic, is a mental health disorder that impacts the way individuals think and feel about themselves and others (Mayo Clinic, 2022). BPD can cause emotional and behavioral disturbances, problems in everyday functioning, negative self-image, and unstable relationships. 

BPD emerges around young/early adulthood; it can seem worse in the early years, but symptoms can gradually get better as time progresses. For people with BPD, proper therapy and psychiatric treatment from qualified professionals, as well as a healthy support system from others in the BPD community, can be especially helpful early on.

Symptoms of BPD

Symptoms of BPD

Common BPD symptoms include intense fear of abandonment, unhealthy relationships, negative self-image, chronic stress, impulsive behavior, suicidal behavior, mood swings, feelings of sadness, and inappropriate emotional affect. To further elaborate on the common symptomology, here is a helpful breakdown:

  • Fear of Abandonment – Specifically, the fear of separation or rejection in relationships. Individuals with BPD may avoid others or take extreme measures to please others to maintain a relationship.
  • Unstable relationships – Individuals with BPD in relationships struggle with constantly changing feelings for their significant other. They may exhibit intense emotions such as idealization, infatuation, and strong emotional/sexual intimacy, and at other times they may express anger, pain, and hurtful emotions.
  • Self-image – Individuals with BPD may have a very negative view of themselves and will constantly believe that they are “not good enough” as well as having thoughts such as “people do not like me,” “I am an unlovable person,” and so on. This can lead to a very low sense of self-value and constant feelings of worthlessness.
  • Chronic stress – Individuals with BPD may go through periods of high stress and lose contact with themselves and others over extended periods of time.
  • Impulsive behavior – Impulsive behavior in individuals with BPD can be seen through certain actions and day-to-day activities. Some impulsive behaviors include over-spending, reckless driving, gambling, substance abuse, quitting jobs/schools randomly, and having unhealthy eating habits.
  • Suicidal behavior – Individuals with BPD may face increased suicide ideations, self-harming, plans, and attempts. Some people with BPD may threaten to hurt or kill themselves in order to force the people they’re in relationships with to stay with them.
  • Feelings of sadness – Individuals with BPD may feel stuck in periods of low moods without many periods of high moods, which leads to persistent feelings of hopelessness, emptiness, and worthlessness.
  • Inappropriate emotional affect – Individuals with BPD face constant mood swings, irritability, intense emotions, or a lack of emotional affect.

It is unclear what may cause BPD, but research focuses on genetics and brain abnormalities as the leading causes. Additionally, many people with BPD report trauma in early childhood. It is important to see a medical professional and have this conversation if you know of BPD in your family or have had a stressful childhood. Once you receive a consensus, it is important to seek the appropriate help you need.

BPD Awareness and Treatment

BPD Awareness and Treatment

It is important to understand the awareness of BPD as May is Borderline Personality Awareness Month, and mental health professionals are the only kind of healthcare providers that can help diagnose and treat people with BPD.

The most widely used treatment for BPD is called Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). With DBT individuals can work to gain emotional coping mechanisms, life skills training, and work on emotional balance/control in individual psychotherapy.

It is also important to speak to a psychiatrist if an individual with BPD would like some assistance with medication management. Currently, there is no specific medication to treat BPD itself, but your medical provider may provide some medication management to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression involved in BPD.  This can help with the early onset of BPD and help with some of the symptoms mentioned above.

An essential component for BPD treatment is a healthy support system. A support group is a place where people can come together to share their personal experiences, give and receive support, and create a safe space to share information. 

There are many ways that one can find support systems in their communities for mental health disorders. Reach out to your therapy or medical provider to help look at available support group programs in medical facilities or organizations.

If you or a loved one is seeking treatment for BPD please schedule an appointment with Clarity Clinic by clicking the link below. 

If you or anyone you know is exhibiting suicidal behavior linked to BPD please call your nearest emergency healthcare provider, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255), or reach out to the Crisis Text Line (text HOME to 741741).

Written By: Khadija Manzoor, LPC

Clarity Clinic

At Clarity Clinic, we have highly trained staff who specialize in therapy and psychiatry services. To learn more about how we can support your mental health, call Clarity Clinic on (312) 815-9660 or schedule an appointment today.

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