Borderline Personality Disorder

Definition

BPD is a serious mental condition involving an ongoing pattern of instability in a person’s moods, behavior, self-image, and functioning often resulting in impulsive actions and unstable relationships.

Overview and Facts

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) affects the way a person thinks and feels about her- or himself and others. It is marked by a pattern of intense, but unstable relationships along with a distorted self-image, extreme emotions, and impulsive behaviors. People with BPD often want loving, long-term relationships, but end up pushing people away due to their mood swings, impulsiveness, and inappropriate expressions of anger.
 

What are the Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder?

Symptoms include:

  • a distorted self-image
  • a pattern of intense, unstable relationships
  • impulsive and/or risky behaviors such as gambling, having unsafe sex, going on ill-advised spending sprees
  • constant feelings of emptiness
  • hostility
  • difficulty empathizing with others
  • intense mood swings that can last for a few hours, or a few days
  • ongoing fear of abandonment or rejection
  • anxiety and/or depression
  • ongoing feelings of boredom or emptiness.
What Causes Borderline Personality Disorder?

It is believed that BPD is caused by a combination of factors including:

  • Genetics--BPD may be passed down through families.
  • Traumatic Experiences at a Young Age--for example, people who have experienced physical or sexual abuse, neglect, or abandonment by a parent or caregiver are at higher risk for BPD.
  • Brain Function-- areas of the brain that control emotions and decision making may work differently in people with BPD.
How is Borderline Personality Disorder Diagnosed?

A diagnosis of BPD is made after an in-person interview with a trained psychiatrist or psychologist. He or she will consider the individual's symptoms and life history. Interviews and input from family and friends may also be helpful. A physical exam may be done to rule out other potential causes of symptoms.
 

How is Borderline Personality Disorder Treated?

A typical treatment plan for BPD will include psychotherapy (for example, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and psychodynamic psychotherapy), medication(s) (for example, mood stabilizers, antidepressants, and antipsychotics), along with group, peer and family support.

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