Borderline Personality Disorder

GinaMarie Guarino, LMHC

Borderline Personality Disorder

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a disorder that affects more than just the patient. A person with BPD has a pattern of erratic behavior and strained relationships. It is a serious, chronic disorder that causes unstable mood and emotional issues. A person with BPD often experiences anxiety and depression. They will present with unhealthy behavior toward others and sometimes suicidal ideation. They will also struggle with establishing a sense of independence or autonomy. Most people with BPD will develop unhealthy relationships. Their need for constant validation often cause a strain on their loved ones.

Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder

A person with BPD will have emotional, cognitive, and behavioral symptoms. Such symptoms include:

  • A pattern of unstable relationships
  • Being overly needy or dependent on relationships
  • Extreme mood swings
  • co-occurring mood or substance abuse disorders
  • Intense fear of abandonment
  • Paranoia
  • Suicidal ideation or threats
  • Impulsive and dangerous behavior
  • Poor self-esteem

A person with BPD will also exhibit a habit”Pushing and Pulling” in relationships. The patient will go from needing to be close to a partner to acting hostile or unapproachable. In severe cases, the person with BPD may show psychotic or dissociative symptoms. Psychotic symptoms are signs of the patient falling out of touch with reality. Dissociative symptoms cause disconnect from identity, sometimes manifesting in out-of-body experiences.

Causes and Risk Factors of Borderline Personality Disorder

BPD is a complicated disorder that has many contributing factors to onset. It has been found that certain circumstances greatly contribute to the onset of BPD. For example, a child may develop BPDg if they have emotionally unavailable parents. Parents play a pivotal role in a child's development. Providing support and security helps a child learn how to be independent. It also helps them develop confidence and self-esteem. When these things are not provided to a child they are not able to develop a sense of autonomy.

Growing up in a neglectful environment is also a risk factor. There are many kinds of neglect, like physical, mental, and emotional neglect. In these cases children learn maladaptive coping strategies to cope with the neglect. They also develop patterns like paranoia and delusional thinking. This is a result of not properly learning how the world works and their own place in the world.

Treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder

Unfortunately, treatment for BPD has proven to be difficult. People with BPD have a warped sense of reality. They also have an undeveloped sense of self. As they grow the learn how to identify who they are based on their relationships with other people. There are also often co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders to consider.

While it may be difficult, it is still possible to treat. Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) has proven to be especially effective for treating BPD. In fact, it was developed specifically to target patients with BPD. DBT helps with BPD because it teaches the patient how to cope with emotional distress. It also targets problem behaviors and distorted thinking. Finally it addresses issues in relationships by teaching positive interpersonal skills.

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