Psychiatrist Blog

What Is Borderline Personality Disorder?

what is borderline personality disorder

You may have heard of borderline personality disorder or BPD many times or perhaps met someone with this condition. 

If you’re unsure how to treat people diagnosed with personality disorders such as BPD, keep reading.

So, what is borderline personality disorder, exactly?

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a type of personality disorder within the Cluster B category, which is characterized by dramatic, wild, erratic, impulsive, and emotional behaviors. 

BPD is a mental illness that affects about 1-2% of the general population and is seen more often in women and young adults. This also accounts for about one-third or more of clinical personality disorder diagnoses. 

[Read: What Are Behavioral Issues In Adults?]

Causes of Borderline Personality Disorder

childhood trauma may cause borderline personality disorder

The cause of borderline personality disorder is uncertain, however, it is thought that disturbances in the separation-individuation phase of development between the child and mother, as well as other dysfunctional parenting patterns, may contribute to problems of separation and self-identity. 

There is often a history of childhood physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse reported by individuals with BPD, as well as a genetic component or family history. 

Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorders

mood instability symptom of bpd

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Fifth Edition (DSM-V) defines Borderline Personality Disorder as a pervasive pattern of mood instability, in association with intense and unstable relationships (interpersonal). 

Some commonly associated symptoms and behaviors include impulsivity, inappropriate or intense anger, recurrent suicidal thoughts, and self-mutilating behavior. 

Individuals with BPD often use a primitive defense mechanism of splitting, which is exhibited by exaggerated dichotomies of good and bad, worthy and unworthy, and black and white thinking. 

There is often a general deficit in the ability to test reality, as well as blown up, intense reactions disproportionate to events. Self-image is usually poorly established and individuals with borderline personality disorder tend to seek constant and repetitive validation in their relationships. This is also tied to a fear of abandonment, and an expectation of mistreatment or exploitation.

unstable relationship symptom of bpd

Individuals are often highly concerned about the nature and status of their relationships, and very sensitive to any changes in these relationships. They may exhibit dramatic and emotional reactions to relationship changes, often with associated impulsive and self-destructive behaviors.

bpd therapy

How Mental Health Professionals Treat Borderline Personality Disorder

therapy for borderline personality disorder

Developing borderline personality disorder can be debilitating for some individuals due to the severity and impact of their behaviors. The treatment and management of BPD are geared toward psychotherapy, with predilection toward dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). 

A licensed mental health provider commonly uses DBT, an effective form of psychotherapy that has shown improvements in self-injurious behavior and anger, fewer days of inpatient hospitalization, less alcohol and substance use, and fewer depressive symptoms. 

Some pharmacologic agents such as mood stabilizers, atypical antipsychotics, and antidepressants may play a role in managing certain symptoms and behaviors, however, medication management requires close monitoring in patients with BPD. It is very important to work with your provider to establish the best treatment plan.

For more information, get in touch with our providers at Pacific Neuropsychiatric Specialists.


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