Borderline personality disorder affects an estimated 1.4% of the United States population. The disorder can manifest itself in many ways and can make it difficult for those with it to maintain stable relationships, both in their personal lives and at work. Living with borderline personality disorder can be difficult, but help is available and with the right support, many people manage to control their symptoms and maintain their mental well-being.
What Is Borderline Personality Disorder?
Borderline personality disorder is a condition that causes difficulty regulating emotions. If someone with borderline personality disorder experiences a triggering event, they may feel emotions more intensely than neurotypical people, and can find it difficult to return to a stable emotional baseline. People with borderline personality disorder may experience frequent mood swings and display erratic behavior. They may also be more likely to engage in risk-taking behaviors.
Borderline Personality Disorder Symptoms
According to the DSM 5, “Borderline personality disorder is characterized by marked instability in functioning, affect, mood, interpersonal relationships, and, at times, reality testing. BPD is associated with significant morbidity due to common comorbid conditions, including dysthymia, major depression, psychoactive substance abuse, and psychotic disorders.” To be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, a person must display at least five of the following symptoms.
Fear of Abandonment
A person with BPD may engage in frantic efforts to prevent real or perceived abandonment. These behaviors would be in addition to the self-harm or suicidal behavior that is also listed in the diagnostic criteria.
Unstable or Changing Relationships
Someone with BPD may find it difficult to maintain stable relationships with friends and family members, or in their professional lives. They may alternate between extremes of idealization and devaluation.
Unstable Self-image, Including Struggles With Sense of Self and Identity
Just as they may view others in an ever-shifting way, their own self-esteem may fluctuate wildly. They may also have shifting goals, values, or opinions. This may be noticed by loved ones as the individual “never finishing what they start” as they may quickly lose interest in activities or projects.
Individuals living with BPD may find it difficult to cope with stress, and this could lead to episodes of paranoia. This can fuel the fear of abandonment that is also considered to be a symptom of Borderline Personality Disorder.
Anger Regulation Problems
Another way the difficulty in regulating emotions often manifests itself is in bouts of extreme anger. Someone living with borderline personality disorder may experience frequent loss of temper and even have frequent physical fights. These outbursts may then be followed by episodes of extreme sadness or guilt.
Consistent and Constant Feelings of Sadness or Worthlessness
Frequent feelings of sadness or worthlessness are also common borderline personality disorder symptoms, and these feelings can sometimes be extreme and long-lasting enough to be considered depression. Other common emotions include anxiety, boredom, and emptiness.
Self-injury, Suicidal Ideation, or Suicidal Behavior
Suicidal ideation and self-harm can be common borderline personality disorder symptoms. Sometimes, these are perceived by loved ones as attention-seeking behaviors, motivated by fear of abandonment. However, these symptoms can be separate and caused by difficulties in coping with unwanted emotions.
Frequent Mood Swings
A person with borderline personality disorder may display frequently changing moods, swinging from extreme happiness and hyperactivity to anger or sadness with seemingly no explanation. Because these mood swings are so extreme and the individual can take a long time to return to a calmer mood after them, they can place a strain on the individual’s relationships with loved ones.
Individuals living with borderline personality disorder are more likely to engage in impulsive or unsafe behaviors. These could include, but are not limited to, binge eating, substance abuse, dangerous driving, unsafe sex, gambling, and excessive spending. People with borderline personality disorder exhibiting high-risk behaviors are at an increased risk of drug or alcohol addiction. Impulsive behaviors may occur consistently or during mood swings, and the consequences of these behaviors may have a lasting impact on the person’s life.
What Causes Borderline Personality Disorder?
Medical professionals have not yet identified a clear single cause for borderline personality disorder. However, it is thought that there may be a hereditary component to some cases of BPD, while environmental factors during early childhood can also be a contributing factor. Some noted causes of BPD include:
- Genetics: Individuals with close relatives who have BPD are at a greater risk of developing the condition.
- Brain function: Certain chemical imbalances or developmental differences in the parts of the brain that control emotions and decision-making may contribute towards BPD.
- Environmental factors: Traumatic experiences can increase the likelihood of BPD, including:
- Physical or sexual abuse during childhood
- Separation from parents
Borderline personality disorder is a serious condition, and it’s important to get proper treatment for it. It’s estimated that the prevalence of BPD in inpatient psychiatric settings is between 15 and 25% and that around 9% of people with BPD will die by suicide, while 73% of people with BPD will have at least 3 suicide attempts during their lifetime.
How to Treat Borderline Personality Disorder
It is possible for individuals with borderline personality disorder to reduce the symptoms they are faced with on a day-to-day basis through therapy. Proper diagnosis is an important first step towards finding the right kind of therapy to help someone best cope with their symptoms.
Talk therapies can work particularly well for many individuals who are living with BPD. Some useful therapies include:
- Dialectical behavior therapy: This therapy consists of mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness, and can be particularly effective at addressing addiction or PTSD symptoms.
- Solution-focused therapy: Another useful therapy for addiction is solution-focused therapy. This option can also help individuals with BPD who are looking to address issues in one specific area, such as interpersonal relationships.
- Cognitive behavior therapy: CBT can help individuals with BPD improve their emotional regulation by re-training how they think and behave in certain situations.
- EMDR: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing is often used to help people cope with trauma. It may be helpful for individuals living with BPD who have experienced traumatic events in their childhood.
At the Beachway Rehabilitation Center, we offer a variety of different therapies, and our mental health and rehabilitation specialists are here to meet with you and discuss your needs so you can find the treatment options that would be most effective for you.
Learn More About Borderline Personality Disorder Treatment at Beachway
At Beachway, we have extensive experience helping people who are dealing with mental health challenges or substance abuse, as well as dual diagnosis treatment. We offer several different therapeutic programs, including therapy, holistic treatments, and faith-based programs. We offer inpatient and outpatient treatments with aftercare services available to ensure all patients get the ongoing support they need to lead a healthy lifestyle and maintain their mental health once the program is completed.
If you would like to know more about the programs offered at Beachway, or book a consultation, contact us today.