Borderline Personality Disorder, or BPD, is a mental health disorder that affects the way you feel about yourself and other people in your life. People who have experienced it defines it as a rollercoaster ride full of unstable emotions, relationships, and a wavering sense of self. BPD can cause frequent changes in personality, self-image, and even likes and dislikes.
Fear of abandonment is also a common sign of BPD. People with BPD want to have lasting relationships, but their mood swings, impulsiveness, and aggressive behavior often scare friends and family away. Therefore, if you are suffering from it, you may experience difficulty in managing emotions, behavior, and relationships.
Furthermore, people with BPD tend to be extremely sensitive. They may get triggered by the smallest things and may show intense reactions. People suffering from BPD also have a tough time calming down and find it hard to think straight and make rational decisions. BPD often begins in early adulthood and may get better with age.
Signs and symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline Personality Disorder has several signs and symptoms. For diagnosis, mental health professionals have grouped the symptoms into 9 categories. A person who shows at least 5 of these symptoms for a long duration is diagnosed as suffering from BPD. The following are the signs and symptoms of BPD:
- Fear of abandonment
One of the most prominent signs of BPD is a fear of abandonment. People with BPD are always scared of being left alone by loved ones. Something as simple as a family member coming home late from work can trigger intense reactions. As a result, individuals suffering from BPD put frantic efforts into keeping family and friends close.
While this kind of behavior feels normal to a person with borderline personality disorder, it looks scary to the person on the other side. Therefore, an attempt to keep everyone close has the opposite effect and scares people away. This is why people suffering from BPD often find themselves alone, and their feeling of emptiness only deepens with every failed relationship.
- Unstable relationships
People with BPD fall quickly in love and then get easily disappointed and fall out of love. More often than not, they enter a relationship hoping that the new person will give them some comfort from their constant worries and insecurities. When that does not happen, the relationship goes from bad to worse in no time. For people with BPD, relationships are either perfect or horrible; there is nothing in between.
- Unclear self-image
Self-image is a perception of self that defines how much you like yourself. With BPD, individuals struggle to keep a stable perception. They go from loving themselves one day to absolutely hating themselves the next day. Such people do not have an idea of who they are and what they want in life. Their ambitions and goals change with their mood, and this is why they end up changing friends, jobs, values, goals, and even religion or sexual identity.
- Self-destructive behavior
Self-destructive behavior and impulsiveness are two of the most prominent signs of BPD. People with this disorder tend to behave in self-destructive ways like driving recklessly, shoplifting, overdoing alcohol or drugs, overspending money, etc. Risky behavior helps them feel good in the moment, but it causes lasting damage to a person’s health, finances, and personal relationships.
After self-destruction comes self-harm. Individuals suffering from BPD do not hesitate from harming themselves. They may easily cut themselves or burn themselves and may also take a step with the intent of suicide. Cutting and burning are the most common forms of self-harm, but they may find other ways of hurting themselves. People with BPD are always in danger of taking a drastic step. Loved ones have to be vigilant at all times and on the lookout for suicidal thoughts.
- Mood swings
BPD causes extreme mood swings that can go from happy-go-lucky today to despondent and suicidal tomorrow. This symptom is caused by the fact that individuals with BPD get triggered by the smallest things in life and go into an emotional tailspin. Their mood swings are intense but may also pass quickly. Mood swings of individuals with BPD last just a few minutes or hours.
- Feeling of emptiness
Individuals with BPD suffer from a chronic feeling of emptiness. They often feel like “nobody” and have this uncomfortable void that they try to fill with the help of extreme and risky behaviors. People with BPD may get involved in drugs, bingeing on food, or even risky sex arrangements to feel better. This feeling of emptiness is what triggers all their behaviors and reactions. Their relationships, their jobs, and even their aggressiveness are built around this void that they want to fill.
- Explosive anger
BPD causes impulsiveness, which often results in explosive anger. It also results in a short temper that comes out even at the slightest of disagreements. Explosive anger may be accompanied by behavior like throwing things or screaming (even in public places). According to mental health practitioners, the anger may not necessarily be directed outwards always. People with BPD may hold it inside for a long time and may express it in the form of self-harm.
- Paranoia or suspicion
Individuals with BPD often struggle with paranoia. They get suspicious about other people’s intentions and may give a tough time to their spouse with their foggy and spaced out beliefs and thoughts. Patients of BPD often lose touch with reality when under stress and cause distress to their family and friends with their words and actions.
Causes of Borderline Personality Disorder
Mental health professionals believe that BPD is caused by a combination of genetics and external factors like traumatic experiences. The real reasons are not fully understood yet. Research and studies have found that personality disorders may be inherited or strongly associated with other mental health disorders in family members.
Diagnosis and treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder
BPD, like all other personality disorders, is diagnosed with the help of:
- A detailed discussion with a mental health practitioner
- Psychological evaluation using competitive questionnaires
- Discussion on medical history and signs and symptoms
BPD is mainly treated with psychotherapy, but a doctor may add medication to the plan to manage symptoms. A doctor may also recommend hospitalization if they detect self-harm or suicidal behavior.
If you or someone you know is showing signs of BPD, do not ignore them.