Borderline personality disorder is thought to affect between 1% and 6% of the population.
It is more common in women than men.
The most telling sign of borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a long history of instability in personal relationships.
This is partly caused by unstable and impulsive emotions.
At one time people with borderline personality disorder can idolise someone else, and soon after they hate them.
As a result those with a borderline personality disorder often have very intense relationships with others.
Borderline personality disorder
Here are 7 other signs of borderline personality disorder to look for:
1. Intense fear of abandonment or being alone, whether real or imagined.
2. The tendency to take risks without thinking about the consequences. Especially when the results hurt the self e.g. car crashes, risky sex or substance abuse.
3. Attempting to self-harm or thinking about suicide. People with borderline personality disorder are not usually trying to kill themselves when self-harming. Rather they are expressing feelings of anger towards the self or trying to feel ‘normal’.
4. Having an unstable sense of self. People with borderline personality disorder may often feel they are different people depending on who they are with. They often describe feeling lost and empty.
5. Paranoid thoughts and zoning out. Believing in things that are not true or sometimes zoning out so that it appears the person with borderline personality disorder is not really there.
6. Feeling intense anger — possibly over relatively trivial matters — and acting out physically in response.
7. People with borderline personality disorder are often on a kind of emotional roller-coaster. Intense anxiety could give way to intense depression, then to another strong emotion. These bouts can last a few hours or even a few days.
Mental health professionals usually look for a majority of these symptoms in order to diagnose someone with borderline personality disorder (there are some slightly different systems and related diagnoses).
The psychological treatment for borderline personality disorder often involves training in regulating the emotions.
Sometimes people with borderline personality disorder are given antidepressants.
This is because they are frequently depressed or suffering with other mental problems, such as posttraumatic stress disorder.
The cause of the condition is still not well understood.
However, it is likely a combination of genetic and environmental factors — as with many mental health problems.
The majority of people can recover from a borderline personality disorder given time and the right treatment.
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
Personality disorder image from Shutterstock