According to some mental health experts, Borderline Personality Disorder (or BPD) is one of the most misunderstood mental disorders.
This article will explore Borderline Personality Disorder and examine the four acute symptoms associated with this mental health condition.
What is Borderline Personality Disorder?
Borderline Personality Disorder is a mental health disorder that has a profound impact on how sufferers feel about themselves and others.
Those with a Borderline Personality Disorder often experience problems in their daily functioning, including:
- Difficulty regulating emotions and behavior
- Negative self-image issues
- A consistent pattern of unstable relationships
Other daily challenges
People with Borderline Personality Disorder may also demonstrate intolerance of being alone and will likely experience profound emotional instability and an intense fear of abandonment.
Perhaps one of the most dominant features of Borderline Personality Disorder is the self-destructive behaviors exhibited by BPD sufferers.
For example, someone who fears being alone may push others away due to the sequence of unregulated emotions associated with the mental illness, such as intense anger, frequent mood swings, and impulsiveness.
Individuals with BPD tend to experience high in intensity emotions compared to those who do not have the condition.
Borderline Personality sufferers may experience highly changeable moods, engage in risky behavior, impulsive behaviors, have unsafe sex, engage in self-harming behaviors and suffer intense mood swings.
Borderline Personality Disorder is usually worse in young adulthood and may gradually improve with age.
Additionally, the symptoms of BPD tend to begin in early adulthood.
There are many distinct symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder that are markedly different from other personality disorders, such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Bipolar Disorder.
By its very nature, BPD tends to impact sufferers in a way that erodes their sense of self and self-image.
On the other hand, narcissism tends to involve an overinflated ego and pervasive feelings of arrogance and self-importance.
Doctor Gerardo Olivera, MD, identified four crucial signs of Borderline Personality Disorder. They include:
- A persistent, overwhelming need to control the lives of others
- Experiencing profound mood swings in emotions (such as fear and intense anger)
- Deep feelings of guilt or sadness over minor things
- Experiencing chaotic emotions such as rage, helplessness, jealousy and fear of abandonment
Additional signs and symptoms
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are additional signs of Borderline Personality Disorder that people must be made aware of, such as:
- Impulsive and risky behaviors: spending sprees, unsafe sex, drug abuse and binge eating, gambling, sabotaging success, for instance, quitting a stable job or ending a good relationship and reckless driving.
- Intense mood swings that last from a few hours to a few days: this gets combined with emotional instability such as irritability, happiness, anger or shame
- A consistent pattern of intense but unstable relationships: such as putting someone on a pedestal one moment and believing that the person doesn’t care about you the next
- Chronic feelings of emptiness
- Sudden changes in self-image and self-identity: which may include shifting plans, goals or ideas and seeing yourself as a terrible person or feeling as though you don’t exist at all
- Episodes of stress-related paranoia and derealization: (loss of contact from reality or believing that one’s surroundings are not real)
- Experiencing extreme reactions: such as intense, inappropriate anger, including losing your temper and being bitter or sarcastic, physical violence may also be a feature.
- Suicidal thoughts attempting suicide, or suicidal behavior: such as suicidal threats, which may include self-harming behavior in response to the fear of rejection or separation (or real or imagined abandonment)
- Binge eating
- Engaging in dangerous behaviors such as self-harm
- Being extremely sensitive to other peoples’ opinions and thoughts
- Substance abuse
People diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder BPD may have inherited specific risk factors associated with the mental illness. These involve:
#1. Traumatic life events or stressful childhood
Many individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder have experienced adverse childhood experiences to some degree, such as neglectful or abusive parents or caregivers and a troubled relationship with a close family member (or family members).
Adverse environmental factors such as substance abuse in the family home, domestic violence, and being exposed to family members with mental health issues can influence the development of personality disorders in later life.
#3. Hereditary factors
Research suggests that people with Borderline Personality Disorder in the family may also be at higher risk of developing a personality disorder themselves.
The above includes mental disorders such as BPD, eating disorders or Bipolar Disorder if a close family member such as their mother, father or sibling has also gotten diagnosed.
What causes Borderline Personality Disorder?
Like most mental disorders or anxiety disorders, the cause of Borderline Personality Disorder is unclear.
However, researchers have identified several causative factors that may get linked to Borderline Personality Disorder, such as:
- Abnormalities in the brain – Scientific research has illustrated marked changes in specific areas of the brain that are responsible for impulsivity, emotion regulation and aggression. Furthermore, other studies showed that brain chemicals responsible for mood regulation, such as serotonin, may not function adequately in BPD sufferers.
- Genetics – Genetic factors play a role in the development of personality disorders, including Borderline Personality Disorder. Studies on twins suggest that personality disorders may get inherited and strongly correlate to other mental health disorders among families.
People with Borderline Personality Disorder often have other mental health conditions or co-occurring mental disorders.
As well as developing Borderline Personality Disorder, individuals may also suffer from:
- Anxiety disorders
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Eating disorders
- Attention -Deficit Disorder/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Bipolar disorder
- Alcohol or another form of substance abuse
- Other personality disorders
Individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder usually experience complications associated with the mental health condition.
Borderline personality Disorder can impact many areas of a person’s life, such as personal relationships, work, school, job, self-image, social activities; the list is endless.
Emotional pain associated with a mental disorder
The emotional pain associated with a mental disorder such as Borderline Personality Disorder can lead to many complications restricting a person’s life and future happiness.
People with Borderline Personality Disorder must be aware of any complications to prevent them from occurring.
How to treat Borderline Personality Disorder
When a mental health professional attempts to diagnose Borderline Personality Disorder, many variables get taken into account.
According to the diagnostic and statistical manual (DSM- 5), the criteria for a person to receive a Borderline Personality Disorder diagnosis must adhere to the following symptoms:
- Fear of abandonment
- Idealization and devaluation
- Unstable self-image
- Feeling of emptiness
- Self-harm and suicidal behavior
- Unstable mood
- Paranoia and Dissociation
Treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder involves a range of therapeutic options, including:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Dialectical behavior therapy
- Schema-focused therapy
- System training for emotional predictability and problem-solving (STEPPS)
- Mentalization-based therapy (MBT)
- Transference-focused therapy
- Support groups
- Emotional support from a health care provider and friends and family members
If you or someone you know is experiencing some of the symptoms mentioned above, you must get in touch with a mental health professional who will advise you on the next steps.
Living with a mental health condition such as Borderline Personality Disorder can be challenging, but it is possible to enjoy the fullness of life once again with suitable treatment.
Get in touch with one of our treatment specialists today to discuss your options.