Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD): 7 Key Facts

According to a study, nearly 1.4% of the adult U.S. population experiences borderline personality disorder. Nearly 75% of people diagnosed with BPD are women.

BPD is a critical psychological condition. Individuals with this disorder have constant mood swings and emotional ups and downs. Unfortunately, they have problematic behavioral and relationship issues.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) defines it as one of the many mental disorders like paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal, or antisocial issues.

It shares some symptoms with bipolar disorder, such as depression, and impulsive behavior.

Like other mental disorders, BPD is a pattern of feelings and behaviors that seem appropriate and justified to the individual experiencing them.

The term borderline refers to the fact that people with this condition tend to be on the ‘border,” with varying mental health conditions and behavior patterns throughout their lifetime.

Ironically, people with BPD try to share a friendly and warm relationship with others, but their emotional ups and downs alienate them from others.

Definition: “Borderline personality disorder is a mental illness marked by an ongoing pattern of varying moods, self-image, and behavior. These symptoms often result in impulsive actions and problems with relationships. People with a borderline personality disorder may experience intense episodes of anger, depression, and anxiety that can last from a few hours to days.” The National Institute of Mental Health

When Does BPD Begin

None of the individuals are born with any psychic disorders. Most psychic disorders, including BPD, begin in adolescence or early childhood.

It has historically been considered lifelong and highly disabling.

According to a 2015 study published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, mild symptoms of BPD appear in childhood. If left untreated, this psychological disorder continues to cause significant distress, especially during adolescence and adulthood. However, the severity of BPD symptoms reduces over time. Functional recovery from BPD is less consistent. Targeted treatments for BPD can help to a great extent.

Signs and Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder

If you have a borderline personality disorder, it will likely cause behavioral issues in all spheres of your life. It will be a thorn in the flesh for you. Significant problems may exist with your interpersonal relationships, emotions, behaviors, self-image, and thinking.

Borderline personality disorder typically includes the following symptoms:

  • Arguments, conflicts, and break-ups mar intense relationships.
  • Strong sensitivity to abandonment and rejection in relationships
  • The perception of one’s self swings between extraordinarily negative and positive feelings.
  • Constant emotional ups and downs with quick shifts in mood
  • Exhibits risky, reckless, and impulsive behavior.
  • Engage in self-harming behavior
  •  Impulsivity and emotion dysregulation
  • Get into paranoid thoughts of insecurity and harm from others.
  • Recurrent feelings of boredom, isolation, and emptiness
  • Intense feelings of worry, anxiety, and depression
  • Unstable relationships and unsafe sex
  • Instability in setting career goals and achieve targets

Notably, only some of the above symptoms will be severe in any men or women BPD patient. Life circumstances can influence the characteristics of this mental disorder.

Causes of Borderline Personality Disorder

Many studies have researched the possible causes of borderline personality disorder. None of the researchers could exactly pinpoint the reasons for BPD.

A comparative study of various types of research suggests that a combination of factors related to genetics, family, and environment increases the risk of mental disorders.

Some of the possible factors that may cause BPD are:

  • Adverse experiences like trauma, childhood abuse, accidents, separation from parents, or severe hardships at a young age
  • Growth defects in the brain, especially in the parts of the brain that affect impulse control and emotional regulation
  • Family history of BPD issues, especially of children born to BPD mothers or fathers

However, everyone who meets the above criteria does not develop a borderline personality disorder. Most people are mentally strong enough to outlive the conditions responsible for mental disorders.


The most effective ways to diagnose borderline personality disorder are:

  • Meet a mental health professional like a psychiatrist, psychologist, or counselor. The psychologist may conduct a psychological evaluation of the patient through questionnaires and friendly discussions.
  • Analysis of medical examination history
  • Discussion regarding the signs and symptoms of the disorder
  • Ascertaining BPD incidence in the family

Diagnostic tests are unnecessary for children as BPD symptoms may worsen as they age.

Treatmentments and Medications 

Most mental health experts in the past were skeptical about the success of treatment for borderline personality disorder. The latest research shows, however, that BPD can be treated.

The first step to BPD treatment is consulting a mental health specialist. It is possible to reduce the symptoms of BPD with consistent therapy under the supervision of psychotherapists. Additionally, the patient should try to resolve the problem as soon as possible.

Treatment helps to calm down the aggressive tendency to self-harm or commit suicide.  Addiction treatment helps those with a substance use disorder.

It’s challenging to treat BPD patients. While they often seek help, they also tend to drop out of therapy.

Look out for well-experienced mental health care experts specializing in treating borderline personality disorder.

Treatment options include:

  • Undergoing psychotherapy treatments include dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).
  • Medications such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, or mood-stabilizing drugs
  • Individuals with severe BPD symptoms should be referred to a psychiatric hospital or clinic for treatment.

Borderline Personality Disorder and Suicidality

Suicidality is a defining feature of borderline personality disorder (BPD).

It is almost impossible to find a patient with BPD who has never shown suicidal behavior. They are at a higher risk of developing suicidal thoughts and making attempts.

In October 2011, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (5th ed.) (American Psychiatric Association, 2013) completed data collection in the field for BPD diagnostic criteria.

According to criteria 5 in the DSM-IV-TR, patients with BPD are characterized by “recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, threats, or self-mutilating behavior.”

Suicidality is a distinguishing feature of BPD from other classic mood disorders.

Where Can I Get BPD Help

If you live in the United States, you can save your loved one from suicide by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), 24 hours a day, throughout the year.

Also, determine which licensed mental health professionals in your area can assist BPD patients. You can approach professionals such as psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, or mental health counselors.

As well as this, be prepared to deal with emergencies such as a patient’s attempt to commit suicide or self-harm.

Living with Borderline Personality Disorder

If you are living with a BPD patient or are in a relationship with someone who has BPD, your life will be very stressful.

First and foremost, it is not easy to accept and acknowledge the reality of BPD.

Regular treatment under the supervision of mental healthcare professionals can gradually ease the symptoms of BPD.

It would be best if you tried to learn to handle emotional outbursts and impulsive behavior. Your sole intention should be to manage a happy and rewarding relationship with the patient.

BPD Recovery Time

Treatments can reduce impulsive and self-destructive behaviors through psychiatric therapy. Psychotherapy, medication, and hospitalization are helpful treatments. In addition, alternative programs like yoga, aromatherapy, support groups, and peer support work well for managing borderline personality disorder.

Most patients with borderline personality disorder improve significantly over time. Undoubtedly, you have struggled with the symptoms of this mental disorder for a long time.

By receiving continuous treatment from mental health professionals, you can reduce your symptoms and live a happier life.

BPD is a complex mental disorder that requires long-term treatment.

Read next: Do I Have Borderline Personality Disorder

Article source:

  • American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
  • Bornovalova, M., Gratz, K. L., Delany-Brumsey, A., Paulson, A., & Lejeuz, C. W. (2006, June). Temperamental and environmental risk factors for borderline personality disorder among inner-city substance users in residential treatment. Journal of Personality Disorders, 20(3), 218-231
  • Coolidge, F. L., Thede, L. L., & Jang, K.  (2001, February). Heritability of personality disorders in childhood: A preliminary investigation. Journal of Personality Disorders, 15(1), 33-40
  • Torgersen, S., Lygren, S., Oien, P. A., Skre, I., Onstad, S., Edvardsen, J., Kringlen, E. (2000, November – December). A twin study of personality disorders. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 41(6), 416–425
  • National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Borderline Personality Disorder: What Is Borderline Personality Disorder? NIH Publication No. QF 17-4928. National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.