Learn about the signs, symptoms and causes of borderline personality disorders.
Borderline personality disorder
While the pressure of everyday
life can sometimes bring about stormy relationships, misshapen self-image, and
mood fluctuations – borderline personality disorder (BPD) is marked by an
intense pattern of those unstable thoughts, moods, and feelings. It is a mental
illness that not only causes problems for the person affected, but for their
family, friends and partners too.
The ongoing challenges for a
sufferer of borderline personality disorder can make it difficult to feel
comfortable in one's own skin and think rationally in times of stress,
resulting in impulsive actions and problems with their interpersonal
relationships. This instability can also disrupt work life, long-term planning,
and how an individual self-identifies and finds their place in their community.
What is borderline personality
Borderline Personality Disorder
is a personality disorder characterised by intense feelings of anger,
depression or anxiety, followed by severe difficulty regulating those emotions.
Your patterns of thinking or actions may seem rigid to the point where
interferences cause you severe distress. The intense and unstable nature of the
condition can alienate sufferers, causing them to feel isolated – and even
increase the risk of self-harm and suicide.
The term “borderline” refers to
the additional mental health conditions that sufferers often “border” on being
While a person with depression
or bipolar disorder will experience the same mood state for a prolonged period
of time, a person with borderline personality disorder may appear to experience
“breaks” between their mood swings.
borderline personality disorder?
As with most conditions, most
experts agree there is no single cause of borderline personality disorder –
albeit genetic and environmental factors, as well as brain chemistry, do play a
role in the onset and progression of the condition, which is predominant
throughout adolescence. Borderline Personality Disorder often improves with
age, and impulsive and anti-social behaviours tend to settle and reduce by the
age of 30 to 40.
Signs and symptoms of borderline personality disorder
Borderline personality disorder is a complex psychiatric condition in which a person has difficulty managing their behavioural, psychological and cognitive impulses. Proper diagnosis is based on a clinical assessment by a mental health professional. Criteria of the disorder may or may not include the following:
Threats or attempts related to suicide or self-harm
Substance use or abuse
Risky sexual behaviour (i.e., unprotected sex, multiple partners, infidelity)
Other risk-taking behaviour (i.e., reckless driving, spending sprees, gambling)
Excessive neediness or fear of abandonment
Intense or chaotic relationships
Avoidance or lack of self-direction
Binge eating or other eating disorders
Extreme reactions to real or perceived threats
Feelings of depression or hopelessness
Low self-esteem or distorted self-image
Fluctuating sense of identity
Narcissism or superiority
Anxiety or nervousness
Paranoia or emotional detachment
Feelings of boredom or emptiness
Helping friends and family suffering from borderline personality disorder
Sufferers of borderline personality disorder are impaired by their inability to cope with stress in relationships (i.e., rejection, criticism, disagreements) – which is why a cool, calm home environment can help to manage their condition. Listening is the best way to help an emotional or irrational person regain self-control, and it’s important to acknowledge your loved one’s feelings.
Borderline Personality Disorder can not only be tough to recognise, but managing its symptoms and coping with day-to-day life can also be difficult. The stigma attached to the condition is unfair, and strong emotions and impulses exhibited by sufferers can make it difficult for friends and extended family members to be supportive or understand.
If your child, friend, or partner has been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, it’s important to build up a solid support base for your own wellbeing too.