What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

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What is Borderline Personality Disorder?
What is Borderline Personality Disorder?
Jul 6, 2021

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

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Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a rather mysterious mental health condition in that it is often misunderstood, and often goes undiscussed in the mental health community. The signs and symptoms of BPD are often confused with those of bipolar disorder. But while bipolar disorder is episodic and symptoms tend to be drawn out among longer periods, or episodes, of time, the signs and symptoms of borderline personality disorder are erratic, frequent, and short-lived. Relational strife tends to be the biggest trigger for those struggling with BPD; such relational problems often exacerbate their core fear of abandonment. These symptoms are often exhibited in both platonic and intimate relationships, often resulting in tumultuous or chaotic interactions with those suffering from BPD.


About Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline personality disorder is a unique mental health condition “marked by an ongoing pattern of varying moods, self-image, and behavior.” BPD is often associated with low self-esteem, persistent feelings of boredom or apathy, self harming behaviors including but not limited to suicide threats or attempts, unstable or unhealthy relationships, impulsive choices, and sometimes extreme anger.

BPD is a personality disorder, meaning that it is “characterized by abnormal patterns of inner experience and behavior.” 


Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder

People who struggle with borderline personality disorder may frequently experience interpersonal instability and suffer from relationship problems. Someone with BPD may go through frequent break-ups, engage in explosive arguments with others, or experience instability with co-workers or bosses. 

Such relational instability is often a manifestation of the core fear of someone with borderline personality disorder: abandonment. To prevent abandonment, someone with BPD will often try to escape, avoid, or flee relationships; they also may plead, negotiate, or seek relational reassurance. Someone with BPD may frequently instigate arguments or test the loyalty of loved ones. The frantic attempts to avoid real or imagined abandonment often result in impulsive, self-sabotaging, and at times, emotionally manipulative behaviors. This “love me, leave me” mentality ends up isolating the individual more than making them feel safe.  

Another symptom of borderline personality disorder includes an unstable sense of self. Someone with BPD may frequently express that they don’t know who they are or may put themselves down. The consistently berating and self-destructive mentality creates an unstable baseline for emotional balance. They may experience lingering feelings of emptiness, dissatisfaction, or hopelessness with their life. Their sense of self is very fluid, and this emotional instability often leaks into other parts of their life, including their behaviors and relationships. 

People who struggle with borderline personality disorder often experience intense mood swings. Other symptoms of borderline personality disorder include intense anxiety, panic, paranoia, irritability, anger, hopelessness, and despair. Those with BPD may experience polarizing, all-or-nothing thinking, resulting in the complete idealization or total devaluation of situations or relationships. Frequent mood swings may include impulsive, harmful, and destructive behaviors such as substance use, binge eating, overspending, reckless driving, unprotected sex, or self-harm. Individuals with borderline personality disorder often struggle with regulating their emotions and thus controlling their impulses. People with BPD are more likely to struggle with addictive behaviors in an attempt to cope with their unresolved feelings and uncontrollable emotions. 


Potential Risks Associated With Borderline Personality Disorder

People who struggle with borderline personality disorder may experience recurrent suicidal thoughts or behaviors. Those with borderline personality disorder are 10% more likely to end their life. It is even said that people with BPD “have a mean of three lifetime suicide attempts, mostly by overdose.” This is why professional treatment for borderline personality disorder is critical. But while in-patient treatment may be the best solution for some mental health conditions, it is said that hospitalization often doesn’t work for BPD patients. Typically, the best treatment for those with BPD is psychotherapy and dialectical behavioral therapy


Treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder

If you feel that you or someone you love may have borderline personality disorder, there are many treatment options. Individuals with borderline personality disorder greatly benefit from psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and dialectical behavioral therapy. In particular, dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) “is currently the only empirically supported treatment for BPD.” There are many helpful books on BPD, including Marsha M. Linehan’s DBT® Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets, Second Edition. But if you or someone you love is in a more critical condition, such as having thoughts or ideations of suicide, you should contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. If you or someone you love has borderline personality disorder, there is hope. 


Borderline personality disorder is a unique mental health condition characterized by impulsivity and emotional instability that often necessitates psychiatric, pharmacological  and mental health treatment. If you are in the California, Oregon, or Alaska regions, and are ready to find relief from low self-esteem, fear of abandonment, and impulsive choices resulting from borderline personality disorder, Achieve Medical Center may be right for you. Achieve Medical Center is a unique, multidisciplinary, private psychiatric and mental health practice. At Achieve Medical Center, your health is our number one priority. Using evidence-based practices, we provide comprehensive and compassionate mental health and holistic wellness services to children, adolescents, and adults in California, Oregon, and Alaska. We offer telemedicine, depression treatment, psychiatric treatment, and psychopharmacology, among other treatment options. If you are interested in a consultation, please call us at (619) 375-3977