Could You Have Borderline Personality Disorder?

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a severe and chronic mental health condition that disrupts a person's ability to regulate their emotions. Up to two percent of adults, mostly young women, suffer from this illness. BPD often occurs with bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. Overlapping symptoms make it difficult to distinguish BPD from other disorders.

Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder

People with Borderline Personality Disorder have extreme mood shifts, unstable personal relationships, and a propensity to harm themselves. They are likely to express intense, short-term bouts of anger, depression, or anxiety.

These individuals can swing emotionally from strong affection for a loved one to intense anger and dislike. They fear abandonment and tend to view things rigidly. Not surprisingly, the rate of marriage among individuals suffering from BPD is about half in a population of people of similar age and culture. Women have children at about 25 percent rate of the general population.

You may see someone with Borderline Personality Disorder exhibit impulsive aggression, self-injury, substance abuse, or reckless behaviors, such as excessive spending, binge eating, and risky sex. In fact, about 80 percent of BPD sufferers have suicidal behavior and four to nine percent successfully complete suicide. Borderline personality disorder accounts for about 20 percent of psychiatric hospitalizations.

Risk Factors and Treatment

Mental health experts believe environment and genetics both play a role in Borderline Personality Disorder, especially in vulnerable individuals. Many sufferers have a history of abuse, neglect, and separation, and up to 71 percent report sexual abuse. People who have BPD may have impaired regulation of neural circuits that modulate emotion, and it may be a precursor to bipolar disorder.

With psychotherapy, drugs, and behavioral interventions, most people with BPD improve somewhat, although they never become totally well. Several types of psychotherapy seem to be effective. Dialectical behavioral therapy helps patients acquire skills to reduce emotional and behavioral extremes. Transference-focused therapy examines and deals with emotions in the therapist-patient relationship, and supportive therapy helps people cope with daily struggles.

Some individuals with BPD have predictably better outcomes. Those who are very intelligent, unusually artistically talented, and are physically attractive (women only), are more likely to improve than those with a history of incest, parent brutality, untreated substance abuse, or schizophrenic or antisocial features. While obsessive-compulsive behaviors are generally a problem, experts say in some people who have Borderline Personality Disorder, these behaviors provide some much-needed self-discipline and structure.




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