woman holding mask and experiencing the signs of borderline personality disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment

People struggling with borderline personality disorder (BPD) seem to forever pull the petals from flowers. Their black-and-white thinking can take them from “he loves me” to “he loves me not” almost as quickly as adolescent girls playing can pluck the blossoms clean. But this is no game for people struggling with BPD. Their feelings run deep and are so painful and frightening that about 10% of BPD patients commit suicide.

If you or someone you love is struggling with BPD, you must seek professional help. Call Promises Behavioral Health at 844.875.5609 to speak to someone from our caring and compassionate staff about our borderline personality disorder treatment program.

What Is BPD?

BPD is a mental health disorder that affects about 14 million Americans, or 5.9% of the adult population. People struggling with BPD have difficulty figuring out who they are, often changing their habits and values to mimic whomever they’re around. Of all the personality disorders, BPD is the most common, most perplexing, and often has the most severe impact due to its tendency toward suicide. Despite its prevalence, borderline personality disorder treatment and even diagnosis are difficult because its symptoms often overlap with other disorders, such as:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression disorders
  • Eating disorders, particularly bulimia nervosa
  • Substance use disorders

The term “borderline personality” was first proposed by Adolph Stern in 1938 to describe a group of patients who don’t fit into the psychotic or the psycho-neurotic group. Stern introduced the term borderline to explain what he observed because it “bordered” on other conditions.

If you or someone you love is “borderline,” you know something is dreadfully wrong with certain behaviors but often do not know what to do about it. One moment the borderline person thinks someone is wonderful and the most amazing individual they’ve ever known, and the next believes that same person is an evil and horrible human being. Even a minor disagreement or perceived slight can precipitate the shift from love to hate. There is no middle ground in the minds of those struggling with BPD, which can make living with them emotionally exhausting. People struggling with BPD also tend to be extremely sensitive.

What Are the Signs of Borderline Personality Disorder?

The symptoms of borderline personality disorder are often mistaken for signs of other mental health disorders, making BPD hard to diagnose. To be diagnosed with BPD, a person must exhibit at least five of the following symptoms:

  • A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal
  • Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness or boredom
  • Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
  • Identity disturbance involving a notable inconsistency in self-image, beliefs, or values
  • Impulsivity in at least two areas that are self-damaging, like substance abuse or binge eating
  • Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger
  • Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats—or self-mutilating behavior
  • Relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation
  • Transient, stress-related paranoid thoughts or severe dissociative symptoms

Symptoms and signs of borderline personality disorder can vary from person to person. However, people struggling with BPD often experience relationship difficulties, severe emotional swings, impulsivity, chronic feelings of emptiness and boredom, recurrent threats or attempts of suicide, and self-harming behaviors.

New research suggests an explanation for the relationship difficulties experienced by people struggling with BPD. A recent study showed that people with BPD traits had reduced activity in brain regions that support empathy, which suggests that they naturally have a more difficult time understanding or predicting how others feel. Interestingly, other studies have found that people struggling with BPD have increased activity in another part of the brain, the amygdala, which plays a crucial role in processing negative emotions and producing aggressive behavior.

What Causes BPD?

Some experts have theorized that BPD’s critical underpinnings are an invalidating environment and an innate tendency to react more intensely to lower stress levels.

An invalidating environment is one in which children are taught to keep their thoughts and feelings to themselves, and any emotion displayed is disregarded or trivialized. An environment like this causes children to distrust their feelings, which leads to mimicking behavior in adulthood. Because of their distorted sense of self, people struggling with BPD often take on the characteristics of another person to be liked and accepted. BPD also occurs much more frequently in people struggling with childhood trauma, mainly if the trauma involves sexual abuse or incest.

Why Should You Seek Borderline Personality Disorder Treatment?

If you recognize any of these symptoms in yourself or a family member, it may be time to seek help. BPD is eminently treatable. In fact, BPD is termed the “good prognosis diagnosis,” and that’s because people struggling with it often get better with no relapses. In addition to recovery sustainability, co-occurring disorders consistently improve when BPD is successfully treated.

However, finding the right therapist to handle your borderline personality disorder treatment is vital. A qualified therapist will be familiar with common approaches in BPD treatment, such as:

  • Dialectical behavior therapy
  • Mentalization-based therapy
  • Schema-focused therapy
  • Transference-focused psychotherapy

Some people struggling with BPD take medication, particularly if they suffer from co-occurring disorders such as depression or anxiety. Therapy and medication aren’t a cure for BPD, but they successfully treat the signs and symptoms of the condition. If you’re struggling with BPD, know that you are not alone—and help is available.

Learn More About Borderline Personality Treatment at Promises Behavioral Health

If you or a loved one is struggling with borderline personality disorder, we can help. At Promises Behavioral Health, our treatment centers offer comprehensive care for people struggling with BPD and other mental health disorders. Call 844.875.5609 to start on the road to improving your mental health.

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