Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental health condition that can create intense emotional disturbances that lead to imbalanced sense of self. In turn, people with the condition have trouble developing healthy relationships and often participate in destructive behavior. ¹
Due to the nature of this illness, a lot remains misunderstood. This is one of the reasons it’s important to lay out some borderline personality disorder facts.
Throughout this blog, we’re going to lay out some basic information concerning BPD along with a list of facts everyone should know about. At the end, we invite you to ask further questions.
Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder
While symptoms of BPD will vary from person to person, there are some common traits of this condition people may experience. These include:
- Experiencing contradictory emotions in a short period of time (sometimes referred to as “black and white” thinking)
- Feelings of abandonment, emptiness, shame, and self-loathing
- Impulsive behaviors (i.e. risky driving, unsafe sex, substance abuse)
- Inability to maintain stable relationships
- Intense anger
- Mood swings and problems controlling emotions (most notably, anger)
- Paranoid thinking (irrational thoughts)
- Periods of anxiety and depression
- Suicidal ideation
- Unstable sense of self
If you struggle with more than one of the above-mentioned symptoms, you may have BPD. In order to better understand your condition, we suggest seeing a medical professional for a proper diagnosis.
Borderline Personality Disorder Facts
In order to better understand BPD, we’re going to lay down 8 important facts concerning the condition. These facts are in no particular order and not all will apply to individual cases.
1.) BPD Affects 1% of the Population
One of the most common symptoms of BPD is intense feelings of abandonment. However, people who struggle with this condition should feel anything but alone.
According to a 2007 National Comorbidity Survey, it was discovered that nearly 1.4% of the 5,692 people who participated had met the diagnostic criteria for BPD. Not to mention, around 9% of respondents had some form of a personality disorder. ²
2.) People with BPD Struggle with Other Mental Illnesses
According to the same survey mentioned above, 84.5% of those who struggled with BPD also had an accompanying mental health condition. Since there are a number of mental disorders that have similar symptoms to BPD, mental health professionals may have a difficult time diagnosing BPD itself. ³
One of the most common co-occurring conditions with BPD is depression. While some individuals may only experience periods of depression, others will go on to develop a major depressive disorder or a form of bipolar disorder.
Mental health professionals still don’t have clear indication as to why people experience BPD and other mental illnesses. However, it’s believed to have something to do with the way an individual copes with their BPD symptoms. For example, some may turn to drugs and alcohol to ease pain and, in turn, develop a substance abuse disorder. ⁴
3.) People with BPD are More Likely to Commit Self-Harm or Suicide
Two of the most intense symptoms of BDP are the inability to control emotions and impulsive behavior. When these symptoms are combined, they can become a concoction that leads to destruction either in the form of self-harm or suicide.
In fact, the American Psychiatric Association estimates that between 8% and 10% of those with BPD will die of suicide. ⁵
For a condition that’s believed to affect at least 1% of the total population, this estimation is daunting. And it’s not to mention the percentage of suicide attempts among people with BPD, which some sources estimate is anywhere between 60% to 70%. ⁶
Part of the reason for these alarming statistics is the fact that people with BDP have a tendency to participate in self-harm. Mental health professionals believe this provides those who struggle with an instant relief and is often made out of impulsive behavior. ⁷
IMPORTANT: If you are either participating or considering participation in self-harm and have no one to talk to, we advise you reach out to the Crisis Text Line for support.
4.) Mental Health Professionals Aren’t Sure What Causes BPD
While mental health professionals continue to research potential causes of BPD, there are a few known factors that play a role in the development of this condition. These include:
- Environment – while environmental factors aren’t entirely clear, many with BPD have reported experiences of childhood trauma, including abuse and abandonment. ⁸
- Genetics – while there is no gene linked to BPD, it’s been observed that you’re more likely to experience this illness if someone in your family also has the condition.
- Neurology – through brain scans, scientists have noticed structural and functional differences between a healthy brain and that of someone with BPD. Further research may be able to identify which neurological problems an individual experiences that leads to difficulty with emotional regulations. ⁹
While more research is required to truly understand the causes of BPD, the above information helps mental health professionals identify whether someone is struggling with this condition or not.
5.) There Are Difficulties Diagnosing Adolescents with BPD
Many experts advocate that those under the age of 18 shouldn’t be diagnosed with any form of personality disorder. Since children and teenagers experience emotional maturation, it’s widely believed that these can prevent signs that could lead to a misdiagnosis of conditions like BPD.
Still, some experts are finding that BPD can be spotted in both children and adolescents. The signs and symptoms are almost the same as those present in adults. The most notable being: ¹⁰
- Consistent angry outbursts
- Impulsive risk-taking
- Interpersonal problems
- Low self-esteem
- Self-injury and suicidal ideation
While the debate continues as to when is a proper time to diagnose someone with BPD, it’s granted that the earlier a person is diagnosed, the more mental health professionals can do to help treat the condition.
6.) Therapy is Both a Necessity and Struggle for Those with BPD
Almost all mental health professionals agree that certain types of therapy are the most effective when it comes to managing the most prominent symptoms of BPD, such as emotional regulation. The two most common types of therapy for BPD include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – allows individuals to identify and control their emotions and conduct. ¹¹
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) – allows individuals to accept and become mindful of their emotions while developing coping skills. ¹²
However, as noted above, one of the biggest complications people with BPD face is the fact that they have a lack of trust in others. With that, it can also be difficult for a person struggling with BPD to have confidence in a therapist.
While it’s often recommended for people to undergo one-on-one therapy sessions, group therapy has also been found to have a positive effect on people with BPD. Due to the nature of conversation these therapy sessions present, it allows individuals to interact and express themselves to others struggling with similar symptoms. ¹³
7.) There is a Stigma Surrounding BPD
While it’s generally understood that much of the population still doesn’t comprehend the severity of any mental health condition, BPD has been found to also face stigma even amongst the medical community. In a 2013 review, it was discovered that a number of mental health providers have harmful views concerning people with BPD. ¹⁴
A common misunderstanding among both those in the medical field and those outside of it is the idea that people with BPD are purposefully and spitefully attempting to manipulate those around them. This belief stems from the intense emotions and risk of self-harm found in people with BPD.
Unfortunately, this false belief also overlooks positive aspects of people with BPD. For example, many individuals who struggle with this condition are highly sensitive, yet, deeply understand others emotions. Not to mention, this deeper connection with their emotions has found to make them more creative.
8.) There is Hope for People with BPD
While there aren’t any known cures for BPD, it granted that those who hold the willpower to undergo treatment will overcome many of the symptoms associated with this condition. In fact, a study published in 2011 found that out of 175 BPD patients, 85% only had two or fewer symptoms within 10 years of treatment. The majority of these changes happened in the earlier years. ¹⁵
We understand that BPD can be difficult to manage and often present itself as though there’s no way out. However, help is available and treatment is effective. If you are currently struggling with BPD, we highly recommend you consult a mental health professional to figure out what the best treatment option for you is.
The purpose of these facts is to lay out information that common within the BPD community, but not so apparent to the rest of the world. If you know somebody with BPD, understanding the condition and how it affects them can make all the difference.
If you struggle with BPD, it’s important to understand that you are not alone in your experience and there are people out there who understand what you’re going through.
IMPORTANT: If you have faced suicidal thoughts or suicidal attempts, it’s vital you receive help immediately. For a life-threatening emergency, either call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. If you’re in need of someone to talk to, you can reach out to the toll-free 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255.
Still have questions concerning the facts of BDP laid out in this article?
We invite you to ask them in the comment’s section below. If you have any further knowledge to share – whether personal or professional – we’d also love to hear from you.
¹ National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): Borderline Personality Disorder
² Biological Psychiatry: DSM-IV Personality Disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication
³ National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): Personality Disorders
⁴ MentalHealth.gov: Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders
⁵ American Psychiatric Association: Treatment of Patients With Borderline Personality Disorder
⁶ American Journal of Psychiatry: Borderline Personality Disorder and Suicidality
⁷ Borderline Personality Disorder and Emotion Dysregulation (BMC): The relationship between non-suicidal self-injury and borderline personality disorder symptoms in a college sample
⁸ JAMA psychiatry (HHS Public Access): Structure of Genetic and Environmental Risk Factors for Symptoms of DSM-IV Borderline Personality Disorder
⁹ Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience (Canadian Medical Association): Neuroimaging and genetics of borderline personality disorder: a review
¹⁰ Pediatrics: Borderline Personality Disorder in Adolescence
¹¹ healthdirect: Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT)
¹² The Mental Health Clinician (MHC): Dialectical behavior therapy as treatment for borderline personality disorder
¹³ National Library of Medicine: Group therapy for people with borderline personality disorder: interventions associated with positive outcomes
¹⁴ Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience (Matrix Medical Communications): Responses of Mental Health Clinicians to Patients with Borderline Personality Disorder
¹⁵ JAMA Network (JAMA Psychiatry): Ten-Year Course of Borderline Personality Disorder