What is Borderline Personality Disorder?
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental illness that centers on a lack of ability to effectively manage emotions. The disorder can be seen in the context of relationships - sometimes all relationships are affected, sometimes only one.
It usually begins during adolescence or early adulthood.
Some people with BPD seem successful while their private lives are in turmoil. Most people who have BPD have a hard time with emotions and thoughts, impulsive and sometimes reckless behavior, and unstable relationships.
Other disorders, such as depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, substance abuse and other personality disorders can often exist along with BPD.
BPD is often misdiagnosed, which can delay and/or prevent recovery. For example, bipolar disorder may be given as a diagnosis due to the symptom of mood instability. There are significant differences between these disorders, but both involve unstable moods. For someone with bipolar disorder, their mood changes can exist for weeks or even months. On the other hand, someone with BPD can have a mood change more quickly and can occur more than once within a day.
Only officially recognized in 1980 by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), the disorder is behind in research, treatment options, and family psycho-education compared to other major psychiatric disorders. BPD has historically met with widespread misunderstanding and blatant stigma. However, evidenced-based treatments have emerged bringing hope to those diagnosed with the disorder and their loved ones.
What are the symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder?
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-5), 5 of the following criteria are present for a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder:
1. Intense, rapidly-shifting moods
2. Intense/inappropriate/repressed anger
3. Unstable self-image/low self-esteem
4. Chronic feelings of loneliness or emptiness
5. Fear of abandonment (real or imagined)
6. A pattern of unstable relationships
7. Self-destructive behavior (substance abuse, self-injury, excessive spending or sex, eating disorders, gambling, risky driving, etc.)
8. Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
9. Disassociation or break from reality
For more information, download a brochure from the National Educational Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder
How Common is Borderline Personality Disorder?
While not as common as anxiety and depression, BPD is fairly common compared to other disorders such as bipolar disorder. In fact, BPD affects as many people as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia combined.
- About 6% or 14 million American adults are diagnosed with BPD in their lifetime
- BPD affects 50% more people than Alzheimer’s disease and nearly as many as schizophrenia and bipolar combined (2.25%).
- About 20% of patients admitted to psychiatric hospitals have BPD
- 10% of individuals in outpatient mental health treatment have BPD
While BPD was once thought to have a higher prevalence in women, research now shows a similar prevalence between women and men. The disorder does manifest differently between men and women, however. Scientists have found that found men with BPD tend to have more substance abuse and explosive anger, while women have more co-occurring eating disorders.
What causes Borderline Personality Disorder?
Research on causes and risk factors for BPD is still in its early stages. However, it is generally agreed that genetic and environmental influences are likely to be involved.
Childhood events may play a role in the development of the disorder. Emotional, physical and sexual abuse, loss, neglect, and bullying may contribute.
One current theory is that some people are genetically or biologically more likely to develop the illness and then harmful events in childhood increase the risk.
Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder
Outcomes are quite good for people with BPD, particularly if they are engaged in treatment. In fact, most people with borderline personality disorder find their symptoms reduced and their lives improved with specialized therapy. While not all the symptoms are entirely eased, there is often a major decline in problem behaviors and intense distress.
Those diagnosed with BPD experience a wide range of symptoms. Some may require inpatient care. Others may need outpatient treatment and never need hospitalization or emergency care.
At the Woodlands Integrative Care, we can establish the right balance of treatment, to help people living with borderline personality disorder improve their relationships and quality of life.
Call us today(281) 383-9366 to schedule an appointment.