This article is an overview of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and provides information on what the disorder is, signs and symptoms, treatments and provides a list of links and resources that you may find useful. We also welcome you to discuss your experiences with BPD in our community with our members.
What is Borderline Personality Disorder?
Borderline Personality Disorder is a disorder that can cause unstable and unpredictable mood swings, behaviour and relationships. Many people with BPD will normally have experienced some sort of traumatic event in their lives and will usually have a co-morbid illness such as depression, addiction, anxiety etc. It was once thought that BPD was the borderline between neurosis and psychosis, however this is not how the illness is defined in the present day. Some doctors now refer to BPD as Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD) as they believe it defines the illness more accurately. It is believed that people with BPD develop traits from an early age as they inherit behaviours and traits from those around them and learned behaviours from the environment. Researchers also believe that the illness can be inherited and that genetics play a role in inheriting the illness. People with BPD tend to have a strong fear of abandonment which usually plays a role in their unstable moods, behaviour and relationships. BPD is usually more common in women but can affect men too.
Signs and Symptoms of BPD
BPD has a large array of signs and symptoms and can affect each individual differently:
- Intense emotions that can last from anywhere between a few hours and a few days but can change very quickly e.g. feeling happy in the morning but feel depressed or angry in the afternoon.
Fear of abandonment.
- Extreme reactions. This can include panic, depression or rage usually from feelings of abandonment or perceived feelings.
- Unstable relationships. One moment you may feel close to and love somebody but the next you may feel very angry towards them or dislike them.
- Impulsive, reckless and dangerous behaviour e.g. engaging in unsafe sex, spending sprees, taking illegal drugs, drinking excessively, binge eating, making yourself sick etc.
- Unstable self-image or sense of worth that can result in sudden changes of mood, opinions, values and plans.
- Recurrent thoughts of self-harm and suicide. You may also self-harm in reaction to an event or change of mood.
- Feelings of loneliness and emptiness.
- Have trouble with controlling anger and rage.
- When you are under stress you may also feel numb and detached from the world, or you may begin to have paranoid thoughts and experience psychosis.
- Black and white thinking. Something either is or it isn’t, there is no reasoning in between.
Treatment for BPD
If you suspect that you may have BPD then you first see your GP or family doctor. They will take a history and may refer you to an appropriate mental health professional such a CPN (community psychiatric nurse) or a psychiatrist, however, only a psychiatrist can diagnosis BPD. They will take an in depth history and may ask you about life events, your childhood and if you have any family history of mental illness. You may have an assessment over a few sessions for your doctor to diagnose you accurately.
There is no specific medication that can treat BPD but it may help relieve symptoms caused by BPD such as depression, anxiety and psychosis. Therapy is usually the recommended choice of treatment for BPD as it can tackle the underlying issues and thought processes behind the illness that can help you manage your thoughts, emotions and behaviour in a more productive and helpful manner. The recommended therapies for BPD are:
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – This helps you understand how your thoughts affect your feelings and behaviour. It can help you identify and change your core beliefs and behaviours that are causing you to have inaccurate perceptions of yourself and others. It can also help you manage suicidal feelings and lessen feelings of depression and anxiety.
Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) – This type of therapy has been designed specifically to treat BPD. It focuses on mindfulness and being aware of the current time and situation. It teaches people how to control their intense emotions, improves relationships and reduces destructive behaviour.
Schema Therapy – This combines CBT and psychotherapy that focusses on reforming schema’s and the ways that people view themselves. This is to help build upon self-esteem and issues surrounding self-image and the way people react to their environment and cope with problems and stress and can improve relationships with others.
There are other types of therapies such as Cognitive Analytical Therapy (CAT) and Mentalised Based Therapy (MBT). Therapy sessions can be undertaken as both individual sessions or group therapy sessions, but both types have good rates of success.
There is also good evidence to suggest that developing your own self-management and relapse plans can reduce symptoms and prevent relapses.
BPD is a complex illness to treat however it is treatable and manageable and many people with the illness lead stable and successful lives.
BPD Links and Resources
Here a few links and resources that may help you when dealing with BPD:
Here are some links to aid you in developing strong self-management plans:
If you have any other useful links and resources then please share with us!
Share Your Experiences!
Please join our to share your experiences of BPD with other members. Sharing experiences and hints and tips are useful to others, and be sure to post if are you are looking for support, help and advice.