Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is one of a group of illnesses known as personality disorders. People with this disorder also have a high risk of developing other mental disorders including substance use disorders, depression, and eating disorders. 

BPD affects a person's thoughts, leading to extreme emotional reactions, a loss of sense of self, trouble forming or maintaining relationships, self-destructive actions, and self-harm or suicide attempts. With the help and support of a good care team, borderline personality disorder can be treated and controlled.

Symptoms

Only a doctor or therapist can make a diagnosis and help you begin treatment. Some symptoms that may indicate that you or a loved one has borderline personality disorder include:

  • Intense, irrational fear of abandonment or being alone
  • Engaging in acts of self-harm
  • Engaging in risky, dangerous behaviors
  • Showing signs of impulsivity
  • Trouble forming or maintaining relationships; a pattern of instability in relationships
  • Sudden, violent mood swings
  • Problems regulating your emotions or feeling like they are out of control
  • Extreme self-criticism and poor self-image
  • Physically, emotionally, or sexually abusing someone else
  • Making plans or expressing intent to hurt others - seek help immediately by calling 911
  • Engaging in suicidal behaviors or making suicide plans - seek help immediately by calling 911

Causes

Many factors may be correlated with the development of a personality disorder like borderline personality disorder. Some factors that may put one at risk for developing borderline personality disorder include:

  • Childhood sexual, emotional, or physical abuse
  • Childhood abandonment, or rejection by parental figures
  • Structural or functional issues in the brain or a traumatic brain injury
  • Exposure to trauma like war, becoming an orphan, or instability or violence in childhood
  • Having another family member with borderline personality disorder or a personality disorder

Treatment

A qualified care team can help you come up with a treatment plan to get your borderline personality disorder under control using medication, therapy, and support. 

Medication: Mood stabilizers and anti-depressants along with other drugs, have been used to help control BPD. 

Therapy: Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is commonly used to help treat borderline personality disorder. Learn more about DBT; find programs that offer DBT-informed treatment and comprehensive DBT at Sheppard Pratt. 

Education: Knowing more about borderline personality disorder and other personality disorders can help you explain what’s going on to your friends and loved ones. It can also help you learn about your treatment options. Find more educational resources through Sheppard Pratt.

Support: Getting the support that you and your family need is a big step toward improving your life. Find a support group that can help.