Borderline Personality Disorder: What It Is and How to Get Help


Borderline personality disorder, also known as BPD, is a Mental Health disorder that affects your ability to regulate your emotions and feelings about yourself and those around you. It affects approximately 14 million Americans. To be clear, this is different from normal emotional fluctuations and variations diagnosed as bipolar disorder.

People diagnosed with borderline personality disorder experience long-term patterns of extreme and unstable emotions that interfere with their ability to function in daily life. You can think of the TPL as the extremes of everything – either really good or really bad. The opinions and perceptions of things are changing extremely fastleading to impulsiveness in relationships and actions.

Here’s what to know about borderline personality disorder and seeking help.

What causes borderline personality disorder?

Experts don’t fully understand what causes borderline personality disorder, although current research suggests that genetic, social and environmental contributing factors. Some research investigate twins and families discovered that personality disorders can run in families or that family relationships can predispose you to borderline personality disorder.

The next factor is environmental and social influences, especially in early childhood. Traumatic life experiences, such as a history of child neglect, abuse, or abandonment, can contribute to the development of borderline personality disorder. One of the most tangible markers of borderline personality disorder is the fear of abandonment and the will to do everything to stop it. The behaviors adopted are extreme, such as self-harm or aggressive actions physically hold a person there.

Finally, your brain structure can contribute to borderline personality disorder. Research that studies brain images of people with BPD has found that the amygdala and hippocampus — brain structures crucial for emotional regulation and the fear response — are smaller than in the average brain.

Signs and Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline personality disorder isn’t just a roller coaster of emotions. This fundamentally affects how you interpret your feelings about yourself, your behavior and your relationships with others. Although the experience of borderline personality disorder symptoms varies from person to person, there are typical behavioral markers that help therapists diagnose the condition. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual identifies the symptoms of borderline personality disorder as:

  • Have a intense fear of being abandoned by friends and family. For many people with borderline personality disorder, the perception of being abandoned or the end of a relationship are big triggers. They will frantically try to avoid real and imagined abandonment.
  • Significant mood swings can range from happiness to anxiety and irritability. These episodes can last a few hours or as long as a few days.
  • A history of unstable personal relationships with friends and family members.
  • Impulsive and risky behavior such as excessive consumption of alcohol and food, quitting a good job, reckless spending and drug use.
  • Frequent changes in the way someone sees themselves. Goals and values ​​may also change.
  • Self-harming behavior and suicide threats.
  • Periods of intense anger or bitterness, which can lead to physical fights.

The severity and frequency with which a person may experience these symptoms depends on the person.

Treatment of borderline personality

The prognosis for borderline personality disorder is quite good, and even better if you seek treatment. It is essential to see a licensed mental health professional who will perform a full medical examination.

A therapist can help create a effective treatment plan which includes psychotherapy, medication management or peer counseling. Methods of psychotherapy are the primary treatment for borderline personality disorder, including cognitive behavioral therapy, schema-focused therapy and dialectical behavior therapy. These therapy sessions help you develop long-term coping skills that you can use to manage your symptoms and your reactions to situations.

Medications can also be part of the borderline personality disorder treatment plan. Mood stabilizers or antidepressants may be prescribed to help offset the extreme mood swings of borderline personality disorder, although no pill will cure the symptoms.

Regardless of your treatment plan, the goal of borderline personality disorder treatments is to help you overcome emotional issues and manage the symptoms of the disorder.

Borderline Personality Disorder vs Bipolar Disorder

While on the surface borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder appear to be the same thing due to their common symptoms, they are two separate disorders which cannot be grouped. BPD is a personality disorder, while bipolar disorder is a mood disorder.

BPD is marked by instability in your emotions and actions, in the way you perceive situations, and in the way others see you. When a person with bipolar disorder is not in a manic or depressive episode, they have stability that people with BPD do not have.

Moreover, bipolar disorder is more drug sensitive because it is biologically based. Borderline personality disorder cannot be treated like bipolar disorder because additional psychological factors must be taken into account.

Finding help for borderline personality disorder

Living with borderline personality disorder or being a family member of someone who has it can be stressful. When you’re in the thick of it, finding help can seem out of reach, especially if you don’t know where to start or how to find a therapist.

If you are looking for a therapist in your area, you can contact your primary care physician, who will refer you to a trained mental health professional to help you. When preparing for your appointment, write down your questions ahead of time and make sure you have a list of your current medications handy. You want to provide as much information as possible. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!

Also, it’s more than okay to bring a spouse, friend or relative. You should feel able to do whatever it takes to make sure you are comfortable and in the best position to get help. Prognosis with long-term talk therapy is good, but improving the more willing you are accept help.

Use the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Behavioral Health, or SAMHSA, Treatment Services Locator to find the therapist in your area.

Self-care tips for borderline personality disorder

The thing is, borderline personality disorder isn’t something you get rid of. But it doesn’t have to rule your life and wreak havoc on your self-image and relationships. In addition to talk therapy and support from mental health professionals, there are things you can do daily to take care of you.

  • Set realistic goals.
  • When you have a big task, break it down into smaller, achievable steps.
  • Make sure your family and friends know what situations or actions may trigger you. They may do things unintentionally, and setting expectations can help avoid these situations altogether.
  • Allow yourself to seek out things that bring you comfort. It can be a place, people or a certain situation.
  • Incorporate exercise into your routine to help reduce stress.

Borderline personality disorder is a lifelong condition. You shouldn’t expect your symptoms to go away or get better overnight. You will see gradual improvements in your thoughts and actions through therapy and self-care.

The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical or health advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.


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