Symptoms & Signs of Borderline Personality Disorder Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental health condition with an official definition that comes from an organization called the American Psychiatric Association. However, you or your loved one can have symptoms or show signs of the disorder without actually meeting all of the criteria needed to make an official diagnosis. In either situation, it\u2019s important to recognize BPD\u2019s effects and\u00a0seek help as soon as possible. BPD effects two in every 100 adults and young\u00a0women are most commonly impacted. A Broad Picture of the Condition Before we look at\u00a0the official definition of BPD, let\u2019s take a broader look at all of the condition\u2019s potential symptoms and signs. The three main problems present in people with\u00a0borderline personality disorder\u00a0are: \tFrequent involvement in unusually reckless or impulsive conduct \tDifficulty maintaining solid relationships with others \tDifficulty maintaining control over one\u2019s thought processes and emotions A\u00a0broad range of symptoms\u00a0can point to the existence of these problems. For example, common forms of impulsive conduct in people with BPD include binging on food, driving recklessly, going on major shopping binges, participating in risky sexual behavior and abusing drugs, alcohol or prescription medications. On the relationship front, you or your loved one may tend to fall into volatile relationships that swing back and forth between extreme affection and blatant hostility. People with BPD may experience a wide variety of thought- or emotion-related problems. Relatively common examples of these problems include angry outbursts that seem to come out of nowhere, serious and unpredictable mood changes, strong fear of being abandoned by others and a sense of emptiness that occurs repeatedly over time, or never seems to go away at all. During stressful situations, a person with borderline personality disorder may experience bouts of paranoia. At the extreme end of possible symptoms, the condition may lead to loss of a sense of self or a complete break with reality. In addition, significant numbers of people with BPD physically injure themselves without planning to commit suicide, make actual suicidal plans or take active steps to commit suicide. The Official BPD Definition When doctors in the U.S.\u00a0diagnosis borderline personality disorder, they use the American Psychiatric Association\u2019s official criteria. According to the standards currently in place, you or your loved one must have extensive problems with emotions, self-image and interpersonal relationships, as well as exhibit reckless\/impulsive behavior. These problems must occur in a range of situations; in addition, they must first appear in the early stages of adulthood. A person who qualifies for a BPD diagnosis must also have at least five out of nine specific symptoms. These symptoms are: \t\u201cFrantic\u201d attempts to avoid being abandoned, even in situations where there is no realistic threat of abandonment \tA clear pattern of volatile relationships that swing between extremes of love and hatred \tA clear and ongoing inability to create a stable identity \tInvolvement in at least two forms of impulsive behavior that can lead to self-harm \tRepeated episodes of non-suicidal self-harming behavior, suicidal thinking or actual suicide attempts \tA sense of emptiness that lingers for extended periods of time \tBouts of emotional instability that last for anywhere from several hours to several days \tGenerally poor temper control or bouts of anger that don\u2019t fit the current situation \tBouts of paranoid thinking, disconnection from the self or disconnection from reality that occur in stressful situations Why Do Doctors Look for Specific Symptoms? There are some important reasons for counting the number of symptoms in people who show\u00a0signs of borderline personality disorder. First, some of the disorder\u2019s symptoms also occur in individuals affected by other mental health problems. If doctors only looked for a couple of signs of the illness, they could easily mistake other conditions for BPD (or vice versa). In turn, this could lead to an incorrect diagnosis and a course of treatment that doesn\u2019t have any positive effects. Doctors can also use the number of symptoms present to tell the difference between relatively mild and severe cases of the disorder: A person with all nine BPD symptoms almost certainly has problems that are more serious than a person who only has five symptoms. Doctors also pay close attention the specific symptoms experienced by\u00a0you or your loved one. That\u2019s because some of these symptoms are extremely serious even in people who don\u2019t qualify for an official diagnosis. For example, whether or not you have borderline personality disorder, suicidal thinking and suicidal behavior are life-threatening issues that require immediate attention from a trained mental health professional.