Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Borderline personality disorder is a serious mental illness that interferes with a person’s ability to process their emotions well.  Those suffering from borderline personality disorder tend to experience severe periods of anger, depression, and anxiety that can last for as little as a few hours or as long as several days.

Some people with borderline personality disorder are predisposed to harming themselves, have problems with addiction and alcoholism, may contemplate and even commit suicide, and many suffer from anorexia nervosa or bulimia.  Borderline personality disorder tends to disrupt the sufferer’s employment and relationships as well as interfering with long term goals. Borderline personality disorder affects about two percent of the population.

What are the Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder?

The lists of signs and symptoms for borderline personality disorder range from fear of being deserted by others, to problems maintaining healthy stable relationships, a tendency to lose touch with reality and experience paranoia during times of great stress.

People affected by the disorder may engage in risky sexual behavior and even quit a promising job, and may also suffer from intense feelings of loneliness and engage in physical altercations.

Additional symptoms of borderline personality disorder may include suicidal ideation and severe mood swings.

Borderline Personality Disorder Causes

There isn’t usually a clear cause of BPD, but experts believe that there are multiple factors involved. Firstly, there could be a genetic cause, because some people who develop the disorder have close family members with the disorder, too. However, this doesn’t mean to say that everyone with BPD will pass it on to their children. Furthermore, it’s possible that the symptoms of BPD could be learned behaviors from parents, rather than genetic traits.

The second factor involved in BPD is often negative childhood experiences. It’s thought that emotional trauma experienced as a child could contribute to the negative and self-destructive thoughts and behaviors exhibited by someone with BPD.

Examples of such childhood experiences include:

  • Family instability
  • Sexual abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Loss of a parent
  • Neglect
  • Situations which could cause chronic fear

Finally, BPD symptoms often seem to be made worse when we’re faced with stress. This suggests that the disorder could be linked with our personality in general and the way we cope with the environment and situations around us.

How is Borderline Personality Disorder Treated?

Talk therapy is the main form of treatment for borderline personality disorder but may also include antidepressants, antipsychotic medications, or mood-stabilizing drugs.

Psychotherapy can include individual or group therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, mentalization-based or transference-focused therapy and self-care activities that introduce positive habits such as regular exercise, stress-management , a healthy diet and regular sleep.

Schema-focused cognitive therapy, by combining cognitive-behavioral and psychoanalytic with interpersonal therapies is a valid approach to the treatment of this disorder.

Hospitalization is often necessary when an individual is having suicidal thoughts or ideas of hurting themselves.

Borderline Personality Disorder Prevention

It isn’t necessarily possible to prevent BPD, but it is possible to manage the condition to an extent that you can prevent symptoms from worsening. Firstly, it’s important to avoid stress. Finding ways to manage and relieve stress, such as doing regular exercise or taking up a relaxing hobby, could help to reduce the severity of symptoms.

Individuals who have suffered trauma during their childhood may find it helpful to undergo therapy or counseling to prevent symptoms of BPD from worsening. Talking therapies can allow us to process past emotional trauma so that we can better understand the negative thought processes, fears and behaviors associated with BPD. Therapies like CBT can also help us to find healthy ways to change our negative thought patterns and reduce the self-destructive behaviors commonly associated with the disorder.