A personality disorder is a pattern of feelings and behaviors that seem appropriate and justified to the person experiencing them, even though these feelings and behaviors cause a great deal of problems in that person’s life.

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a personality disorder that typically includes the following symptoms:

  • Inappropriate or extreme emotional reactions
  • Highly impulsive behaviors
  • A history of unstable relationships

Intense mood swings, impulsive behaviors, and extreme reactions can make it difficult for people with borderline personality disorder to complete schooling, maintain stable jobs and have long-lasting, healthy relationships.

Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline personality disorder symptoms vary from person to person and women are more likely to have this disorder than men. Common symptoms of the disorder include the following:

  • Having an unstable or dysfunctional self-image or a distorted sense of self (how one feels about one’s self)
  • Feelings of isolation, boredom and emptiness
  • Difficulty feeling empathy for others
  • A history of unstable relationships that can change drastically from intense love and idealization to intense hate
  • A persistent fear of abandonment and rejection, including extreme emotional reactions to real and even perceived abandonment
  • Intense, highly changeable moods that can last for several days or for just a few hours
  • Strong feelings of anxiety, worry and depression
  • Impulsive, risky, self-destructive and dangerous behaviors, including reckless driving, drug or alcohol abuse and having unsafe sex
  • Hostility
  • Unstable career plans, goals and aspirations

Many people experience one or more of the above symptoms regularly, but a person with borderline personality disorder will experience many of the symptoms listed above consistently throughout adulthood.

The term “borderline” refers to that fact that people with this condition tend to “border” on being diagnosed with additional mental health conditions in their lifetime, including psychosis.

One of the ironies of this disorder is that people with BPD may crave closeness, but their intense and unstable emotional responses tend to alienate others, causing long-term feelings of isolation.

Borderline Personality Disorder and Suicidality

Around 80 percent of people with borderline personality disorder display suicidal behaviors, including suicide attempts, cutting themselves, burning themselves, and other self-destructive acts. It is estimated that between 4 and 9 percent of people with BPD will die by suicide.

Help for Borderline Personality Disorder

Living with borderline personality disorder, or being in a relationship with someone who has BPD, can be stressful. It can be very difficult to acknowledge and accept the reality of BPD, but treatment may help.

If you are concerned that you, or that someone you care about, may have borderline personality disorder, contact a licensed mental health professional. Many supportive healthcare professionals are available to help you get started on the path to healing. Since BPD can be a complex condition, and treatment usually requires long-term talk therapy, it will be important to find a mental health professional who has expertise in treating this condition.

It is possible to learn how to manage feelings better and find ways to have healthier and more rewarding relationships. With the help of talk therapy, one can learn how to reduce impulsive and self-destructive behaviors and understand more about the condition. With a commitment to long-term treatment, positive and healthy change is within reach.

Resources:

National Institute of Mental Health: BPD
http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/borderline-personality-disorder/index.shtml

Mayo Clinic: BPD

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/borderline-personality-disorder/basics/definition/con-20023204?p=1

National Alliance on Mental Illness: BPD