What is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)?

What is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)?

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental health condition that manipulates the way you imagine yourself and those around. The symptoms associated with this disorder often cause complications in day-to-day life [1].

These include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Compulsivity
  • Instability in relationships
  • Misrepresented self-image
  • Unstable and intense emotions

Due to these difficulties, many people with the condition live in a consistent state of anxiety. Always fearing they may be left behind or lead an unstable life. Part of the reason for this is their conduct might have an effect on how other’s view them. In turn, they either hide away from society or are pushed back into solitude.

If you’re suffering from a borderline personality disorder (BPD), we’re here to help you better understand this condition. Throughout this article, we review everything from the symptoms you might face to the treatment you’re going to need. At the end, we invite you to ask further questions.

BPD Symptoms

It’s important to remember that borderline personality disorder affects everyone differently. Therefore, you may not feel certain symptoms mentioned below.

If you suffer from BDP, you most likely have a detrimental image of yourself and have difficulty developing relationships with others. Partly due to the way this condition causes you to behave.

Other signs and symptoms include [2]:

  • Constant Change – You seem to never be the same person one moment to the next. You’re constantly changing your self-identity and self-image (potentially, through social media). And with that, you’re also changing what you want out of life and your values.
  • Emptiness – You often feel hopeless inside.
  • Extreme Anger – You frequently find yourself inappropriately losing control of your anger. Either through something as simple as sarcasm or something as intense as a physical fight.
  • Extreme Anxiety – You often fear others will abandon you and will go intense lengths to avoid this from becoming a possibility. You may even avoid imaginations or thoughts of this abandonment.
  • High Levels of Stress – Whenever your life brings on stressful moments, you respond with paranoia. This will last anywhere from a few minutes to hours and, on bad occasions, to days.
  • Impulsivity – You take on compulsive behaviors such as drug or alcohol abuse, gambling, reckless driving, shopping sprees, or unprotected sex. You also may do things that are extremely risky, such as quitting your job or ending a relationship without thinking it through.
  • Instability in Relationships – Do you have difficulty keeping together a long-term, stable relationship? Do you find yourself romanticizing a person of interest, only to suddenly demonize them?
  • Mood Swings – You find yourself in a constantly shifting array of moods, from happiness to anger to embarrassment to anxiety. Sometimes, these mood swings will only last a few hours. Other times, they’ll last days.
  • Suicidal Ideation – You’ve considered or have attempted suicide as a direct response to anxieties brought on by BDP. You may also conduct in self-harm upon yourself.


  • Call 911 or go to the emergency room as soon as possible.
  • Consult your doctor or mental health provider.
  • Reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). They’re available to speak 24/7.
  • Reach out to your faith community.
  • Reach out to your family, friends, and/or trusted peer groups.

What Causes BPD?

Mental health professionals still don’t entirely understand why people develop borderline personality disorders. What they do know is as follows:

  • Brain Irregularities – It’s been discovered that certain areas of the brain are different within those with BDP in comparison to an average brain. More particularly, areas within the brain responsible for emotions, compulsivity, and anger. Furthermore, it’s been found that there’s a difference in brain chemical levels that are responsible for mood regulation [3].
  • Environment – There are various factors of a person’s environment that may lead to a borderline personality disorder, including childhood abuse/neglect, sexual abuse, and other traumatic experiences [4].
  • Genetics – Some studies have found that people with a borderline personality disorder often have a family member with the same condition [5].

What Are the Risk Factors?

Again, mental health professionals still don’t entirely understand what puts a person at risk of developing (or genetically having) BPD. However, there are two risks closely linked to people with the condition [6]:

  • Difficult Childhood – When it comes to BDP, numerous people report having gone through a traumatic experience as a child. This includes, but isn’t limited to:
    • Being neglected
    • Experience physical or sexual abuse
    • Had a parent or caregiver who abused drugs
    • Had a parent or caregiver who struggled with another mental illness.
    • Losing someone close to you (either through death or separation)
    • Unstable family
  • Hereditary – If a close relative – such as your parents or siblings – has BDP, you’re at a higher risk of having it yourself.

Other Risk Factors

People with BDP tend to struggle with their symptoms on a day-to-day basis. In turn, this can lead to multiple complications in many of life’s aspects. These include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Consistent losing jobs or relationships
  • Difficulty in relationships (can sometimes lead to abusive relationships)
  • Inability to finish school
  • Legal complications that may result in jail time
  • Suicidal ideation and self-injury
  • Unexpected accidents – such as pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease, car crash, and/or a fight.

Can BDP Lead to Other Mental Disorders?

Yes, people with borderline personality disorder are at risk of developing another mental disorder. These conditions include:

  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Eating disorder
  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Major depressive disorder (depression)
  • Other personality disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Social anxiety disorder (SAD)
  • Substance abuse disorder

BPD Diagnosis

There are a few ways a medical professional will diagnosis you with a borderline personality disorder (or another personality disorder). These include:

  • An evaluation of your psychology
  • An in-depth analysis of your medical history
  • An interview with both you and your doctor about your current medical condition

It’s less common for a medical professional to diagnose a child or teenager with BDP as it is with an adult. Often, children or teenagers who may show signs and symptoms of BDP will grow out of them. If they continue into adulthood, then that person will receive a proper diagnosis.


Once a person is diagnosed with a borderline personality disorder, they will undergo two forms of treatment [7]:

  • Medication
  • Psychotherapy

By combining these two treatments, it’s believed people can gain better control of their symptoms. If it is believed you are at risk of hurting yourself and/or others, you may be hospitalized.


Currently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any drugs for the treatment of borderline personality disorder. However, there are a few medications believed to help with specific symptoms.

For example, a patient may be prescribed antidepressants if they’re showing symptoms of depression and anxiety. They may also be prescribed either antipsychotics or mood-stabilizers if they’re showing symptoms of compulsiveness and anger.

WARNING: Some of the medications prescribed to people with BDP are addictive. It’s important to consult your doctor both about the proper dosage and frequency of use. Furthermore, if you find that you don’t need medication in order for your treatment, you may benefit from not taking it. There are many cases where addiction through prescription medication has led to worse problems than BDP itself.


Psychotherapies (sometimes referred to as “talk therapies”) are one of the most important aspects of treating any mental health condition. When it comes to borderline personality disorder, psychotherapy will allow you to pinpoint where your symptoms affect you most and help you gain better control of them [8].

Common psychotherapies for BDP include:

  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) – Out of all the psychotherapies mentioned on this list, DBT may just be the most powerful as it was designed for borderline personality disorder. You can expect to learn how to control your emotions, better manage stress, and improve upon relationships through group and individual therapies.
  • Mentalization-based therapy (MBT) – the purpose of this talk therapy is to help you recognize your thoughts and emotions. Through this understanding, it’s hoped that – at any moment – you can grasp control of your thoughts and emotions and put them into a new direction.
  • Schema-focused therapy – If you have life goals you weren’t able to meet due to BDP, schema-focused therapy will help you change bad life habits and develop them into patterns that help you achieve your goals. Furthermore, this therapy will help those who harm themselves better understand negative thought patterns and avert them to positive ones.
  • Systems training for emotional predictability and problem-solving (STEPPS) – through this 20-week training, you’ll get your family, friends, and other important people working together on your treatment.
  • Transference-focused psychotherapy (TFP) – this psychotherapy will allow you to better comprehend your feelings and BDP symptoms by creating a strong relationship between you and your therapist. Through this, it’s hoped you’ll apply what you learn to real-life events.*Note, sometimes TFP is referred to as psychodynamic psychotherapy.

Your Questions

Still have questions concerning borderline personality disorder (BPD)?

We invite you to ask them in the comments section below. If you have personal advice to offer to others suffering from BPD, we’d also love to hear from you.

We try to reply to each legitimate comment in a prompt and personal manner.

Reference Sources

[1] MentalHealth.gov: Borderline Personality Disorder

[2] MedlinePlus: Borderline personality disorder: Symptoms

[3] HHS Public Access: Structural brain abnormalities in borderline personality disorder

[4] AAP News & Journals Gateway: Borderline Personality Disorder in Adolescence

[5] Transitional Psychiatry: Genome-wide association study of borderline personality disorder reveals genetic overlap with bipolar disorder, major depression, and schizophrenia

[6] HHS Public Access: Risk Factors for Borderline Personality Disorder in Treatment Seeking Patients with a Substance Abuse Disorder

[7] Harvard Health Publishing: Treating borderline personality disorder

[8] NIMH: Psychotherapies

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