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Borderline Personality Disorder

Updated on August 19, 2014

The Many Faces of Borderline Personality Disorder

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What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Borderline personality disorder is a complex psychological illness where a person suffers from unstable moods, behaviors and negative thoughts. Negative self esteem and a distorted self image are often associated with BPD.

Those struggling with borderline personality disorder often exhibit impulsive, wreckless behavior. Occassionaly, people with BPD experience brief psychotic episodes or periods of mania.

Borderline personality disorder typically manifests itself in early adulthood, and is more common in women than men. People who suffer from BPD have difficulty establishing healthy relationships with others.

More often than not, borderline personality disorder is a co-occuring mental illness, where sufferers also struggle with depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders or substance abuse issues.

People with BPD are prone to self-harming behaviors, as well as suicidal thoughts and tendencies.

How to Identify Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline personality disorder can be difficult to diagnose, because so many of the signs and symptoms fall under numerous DSM diagnoses. Because of this, psychiatrists avoid a diagnosis of BPD until the patient is at least 18 years of age - the time when the human brain is close to being fully developed.

Signs and symptoms of borderline personality disorder can include:

  • Impulsivity
  • Poor decision making
  • Suicidal thoughts and tendencies
  • Unstable and/or unpredictable moods
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Depression
  • Shop lifting
  • Drug and/or alcohol abuse
  • Sexual promiscuity
  • Difficulty to controlling anger
  • Paranoia and dissociation

The list of signs and symptoms for borderline personality disorder is extremely long, but those who suffer don't necessarily have to possess all of the signs in order for a diagnosis to be made.

An estimated 80% of those with BPD suffer from suicidal thoughts and self harming behaviors, and nearly 10% of sufferers wind up committing suicide because of their illness. If you suspect that you or someone you know is sufferring from borderline personality disorder, you should seek counseling from a psychiatrist.

Back from the Edge - Living with Borderline Personality Disorder

Causes of Borderline Personality Disorder

Research is still in the early stages of determining the causes that lead up to borderline personality disorder. Currently, the main causes of BPD have been identified as genetic and environmental factors.

The genetic influence on patients with borderline personality disorder is the most aggreed upon cause amongst scientists and researchers. Other factors that may contribute to the development of BPD include social factors and cultural factors.

New research is showing common brain abnormalities in patients with borderline personality disorder. These abnormalities include issues in the part of the brain that handles emotional regulation, impulsivity and aggression, as well as deficient serotonin levels.

Significant research has shown that children who are victims of abuse are 40% more likely than other children to develop borderline personality disorder.

Suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder can be Debilitating

I Hate You, Don't Leave Me - Understanding Borderline Personality

Treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder

Currently, there is no way to cure patients with borderline personality disorder, however doctors have discovered numerous ways to manage the symptoms of BPD so sufferers can lead a normal life.

Serotonin, norepinephrine, and acetylcholine are the main chemicals in the brain that regulate emotion. By using medications that enhance serotonin function, doctors have been able to help stabilize the mood of a patient with BPD.

These medications include serotonin reuptake inhibitors, anti-depressants, anxiety medications and serotonin neropenopherine reuptake inhibitors.

In extreme cases, patients with borderline personality disorder may be given recommendations for inpatient psychiatric treatment to help stabilize them.

This often occurs when the patient is exhibiting high levels of self-harming behaviors, high levels of suicidal thoughts, and/or eating disorder and drug addiction issues.

Unstable Moods and Behaviors are a Sign of Borderline Personality Disorder

Living with Borderline Personality Disorder

Living with borderline personality disorder is far from easy. Patients have to deal with unpredicatable and eratic moods, impulsivity problems, a negative sense of self and an overwhelming feeling that they are worthless.

Without treatment, living with borderline personality disorder can be paralyzing. This is why so many of those who suffer from BPD and don't receive help wind up committing suicide.

There are many ways that those living with borderline personality disorder can improve the quality of their lives, including:

  • Psychiatric treatment and medication
  • Psychotherapy
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Regulate their sleep schedule and meals
  • Surround themselves with people who build them up rather than bring them down
  • Group counseling with other people suffering from BPD

Border ____ : A Compassionate View of Borderline Personality Disorder

Living with Someone with Borderline Personality Disorder

Living with someone with borderline personality disorder can be just as difficult as suffering from borderline personality. Loved ones often feel like they must walk on eggshells around the person - afraid of what may set off uncontrolable fits of anger or impulsive decision making.

Advice for those living with someone with borderline personality disorder:

  • Seek out group therapy for loved ones of BPD sufferers
  • Talk to a therapist
  • Educate yourself on the disorder
  • Recognize that you are not the cause of their issues
  • Encourage the person to seek out treatment

The best thing a person can do if they have a loved one with borderline personality disorder is to listen to that person. Don't dismiss comments about suicide or other dangerous behaviors. If your loved one reports suicidal thoughts or is engaging in other harmful behaviors, it is always the best idea to call 9-1-1 as soon as possible.


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    • freedomfight profile image

      Christian Mike Simmons 

      6 years ago from Durham, NC

      I suffer from this disease. My old therapist had suggested Dialetical Behavioral Therapy. But after they kept "dragging their heels", I just said forget about it and I will deal with it on my own. The way I always have. I have a tremendous issue with "free time". I can do what others expect of me, but when it comes to my time, I can do nothing that I chart myself to accomplish day after day.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 

      6 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      This is so interesting. I think I know people like this. Excellent hub. Voted up, interesting, useful, and awesome.

    • crayonbrains profile image


      6 years ago from The World Is Mine !

      Its sad how Bpd is looked down upon as something evil. I know it's a difficult illness but given the right kind of treatment there is hope. We should educate ourselves about Bordeline personality disorder as no other mental illness is mistaken and misunderstood as this one. Borderline patients are dubbed as empathy less selfish fiends who are from hell ! But if we care to take a good look into them and what lead them to this disorder, I am sure one can't help but feel for them. Perhaps contrary to being empathy less they feel emotions so intensely that it creates a havoc in their mind and lives which they are unable to handle. DBT gives them tools to handle these emotions.

      God speed improvement and recovery. Thank you Kathleen for this informative hub.

    • Kathleen Odenthal profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Odenthal 

      6 years ago from Bridgewater

      Well truth be told I am diagnosed with BPD and struggled through much of my teen years into my early twenties. I was labeled as a "drug addict" and a "lost hope". I have committed much of my life to ending the stigma surrounding mental illness, as I am currently a successful, contributing member of society. I am not my disease.

      I am so happy you enjoyed my article and you are more then welcome to use it in the future! :)

    • fpherj48 profile image


      6 years ago from Carson City

      Kathleen....Bravo. A near-perfect essay of sorts, it you will, on BPD.....I was glued to it. The video you chose to include, is by far one of the most precise and comprehensive tutorials I have seen, even of those used in classrooms for training purposes. I have definitely bookmarked your work for future reference and if you don't mind, future use.

      What impressed me most, Kathleen is that I can see that your hub, as well as the video, is so well-done as to be easily understood by the average lay person. This is no small accomplishment. It is incredibly vital to have more information presented as yours is, for the patient and families to absorb and assimilate comfortably.

      I needed more than "interesting & useful".....but that's what they give us to work with!! LOL....UP++ tweeted & pinned & shared.


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