Borderline Personality Disorder Symptoms And Treatment

What are the symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder? In what ways are family members of someone with this disorder affected? What treatments are available for Borderline Personality Disorder. Does someone you love have BPD?

Borderline Personality Disorder is considered to be the most common personality disorder. The diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder is somewhat controversial because it is difficult to diagnosis. Some classic symptoms of this disorder include an intense fear of abandonment, emotional intensity, unpredictable mood swings, impulsivity, obsessive ruminating, paranoid distortions and self-destructive behavior.

People with Borderline Personality Disorder have immense difficulty regulating their emotions. They display a marked hypersensitivity to other people and the stress of social interactions and emotional intimacy that leaves them on an emotional roller coaster that is terrifying to themselves and others. People with BPD become so overwhelmed by their own emotions that they lash out at their loved ones in unpredictable rages or turn their fear and anger inwards and act self destructively.

Individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder find it more difficult to distinguish reality from their own misperceptions of the world and their surrounding environment. While this may seem like a form of delusional disorder at times, it is actually caused by their intense emotions overwhelming their regular cognitive functioning. This is why people with BPD can sometimes excel in academia and the work place and yet totally lose control in their personal and family lives.

The most distinguishing characteristic of Borderline Personality Disorder is a tendency to see things in black and white. People suffering from this disorder live in a world of extremes. They either idealize or vilify everyone they meet. Often they veer between idealizing a loved one and devaluating them causing great turmoil and misery in that loved one's life. Situations these people encounter are viewed as either ideal or disastrous. It doesn't take much to upset their equilibrium. A frown from a co-worker or neighbor may send them into a rage and their spouse and family members may have to listen to obsessive ruminating about this co-worker's personality and actions for several weeks afterward. A neighbor may be shunned as a result of a facial expression, a throwaway comment, or a broken lunch date. A family member may be cut out of the will after displeasing the BPD by some minor action or because the BPD has fabricated in their mind, actions or motivations that never occurred.

Individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder are generally not psychotic, however their behavior can seem "crazy" to those closest to them. They often have extreme mood swings that cycle very rapidly through out the course of a single day. They are irritable and anxious much of the time. BPDs are often suspicious and distrustful of loved ones and others without real cause. They experience cognitive distortions and accuse loved ones and others of doing things they haven't done and of having sinister motives for the simplest of actions. They feel they can never get enough love and affection to make them feel happy and secure. Loved ones feel they are constantly "walking on eggshells" fearful of doing or saying the "wrong" thing least it set off the rage of their borderline family member.


Some people with Borderline Personality Disorder engage in self-destructive behaviors such as over spending, overeating, promiscuity, criminal behavior, substance abuse, prostitution, and eating disorders. A subgroup of BPDs is involved in chronic self-mutilation for example purposely burning and cutting their skin.Some BPDs cut their skin so often that they are referred to as "cutters". Suicidal ideology is common at some point in many of these people's lives.

At times people with Borderline Personality Disorder feel empty, spacey and unreal. Central to those with borderline personality is an identity disturbance, a feeling of being empty and out of sync with the rest of humanity. They may have a deep-rooted secret belief that they are evil. Often Borderline's may project their own feelings of inferiority on to loved ones whom they then devalue and abuse. Some BPDs physically abuse their loved ones, kicking punching, slapping and gouging their loved ones with their fingernails. They act verbally abusive to people they know well while putting on a charming front for other people, thus fooling coworkers, neighbors and therapists who may not believe family members stories of abuse. They may appear competent and even excel in some situations while acting extremely out of control in others. Child and spousal abuse is common

Borderlines are "love addicts". They are terrified of being alone. They may rush into relationships and try to establish intimacy as quickly as possible, having sex on the first date, or sharing intimate details of their lives at a very early stage. They idealize the new partner at first, but this idealization quickly turns to devaluation and disillusionment when the person fails to live up to their ideals.

Experts believe that borderline personality disorder, like most psychiatric disorders, is caused by a combination of biological factors, genetic factors and environmental experiences. Those who believe that environmental experience is the primary cause focus on the delicate relationship between children and their caregivers in the early years of life. Many believe that child abuse or neglect is the main cause of Borderline Personality Disorder. Some experts believe the loss of a parent at an early age can lead to a person developing the condition. Violence, traumatic separation, substance abuse or incest frequently marks the Borderline's childhood history. The relationship between mother and pre-borderline child is often revealed to have been confrontational or even hostile.

Borderline Personality Disorder is considered very difficult to treat. BPDs are often intelligent and paranoid. They often convince themselves that those who try and help them are "out to get them" or that family members and therapists are crazy themselves. Psychiatrists who say things they do not like may be labeled "quacks". People with this disorder who are willing to accept treatment may require lifelong help with psychotherapy, medication or both. Family and friends can help by finding an expert in psychotherapy who either knows medication management or can arrange for medication consultation. Treatment can make a big difference to the overall quality of life for the Borderline person and their family.

Psychotherapy is considered the treatment of choice for all personality disorders. Psychotherapy for the patient with Borderline Personality Disorder needs to be structured, and regular and consistent. The patient needs to be encouraged to talk calmly about feelings, experiences and problems, rather than rage and cry through them, as they may be tempted to do .The BPD needs help in learning new coping skills, and impulsivity and emotion regulation. The therapist will need to provide the patient with well-defined boundaries. Therapists need to be especially aware of their own feelings toward the patient. Borderlines may display behavior or attitudes that are deemed "inappropriate" by psychiatrists. They may openly criticize the therapist and his/her credentials. Individuals with borderline personality disorder are often unfairly discriminated against because they are seen as "trouble-makers" who are impossible to treat. There is an unfortunate myth among some mental health professionals that Borderline patients are untreatable.

For many people with Borderline Personality Disorder, suicidal ideation is a serious concern, which must be the first issue any therapist deals with. The risk of suicide and self-mutilation must be carefully assessed and monitored throughout the entire course of treatment. For some patients hospitalization is necessary.

Treatment of any alcohol or drug abuse problems is often mandatory before psychotherapy can be engaged in with any effectiveness.

Medications for Borderline Personality Disorder include antipsychotic medication, lithium carbonate, and antidepressants such as Prozac (fluoxetine). Prozac increases the amount of the neurotransmitter serotonin available in the brain. It appears to be a breakthrough medication for borderlines eliminating emptiness, most mood swings, chronic anger, chronic emotional pain, and boredom within 5 days.

Some people with Borderline Personality may benefit by taking Vitamin B tablets as 20% of patients have been found to have a deficiency of this vitamin.

People with Borderline Personality Disorder can benefit from stress reduction techniques such as exercise, meditation and relaxation techniques. They all have self esteem issues and need therapy that helps build their self-esteem. Originally the name "Borderline Personality Disorder" was given to this condition because people with this condition were considered to be "on the border" between neurosis and psychosis. Although this conception of the disorder is no longer taken literally, it is agreed that people with this disorder may feel that they live on the border between sanity and insanity, between competency and incompetence, even between life and death. The life of someone with borderline personality disorder may look normal to others, but the person with the disorder doesn't feel normal all and only they and their families may see the evidence of their disorder.

Borderline Personality is estimated to affect anywhere between 2%- 14% of the general population. According to the Journal of the California Alliance for the Mentally Ill, 2% percent of the general population, 11% of the outpatients in the mental health system and 20% of hospital inpatients suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder. The disorder is about five times more common among first-degree biological relatives of those with the disorder than in the general population.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, close to six million people in North America have Borderline Personality Disorder. This figure is nearly as many people as those who have manic-depressive disorder and schizophrenia combined. The disorder appears to affect more women than men. People with Borderline Personality Disorders frequently suffer from co-morbid (co-existing) conditions such as eating disorders, depression, anxiety, substance abuse (including alcohol abuse), other personality disorders and Attention Deficit Disorder.

As with any other illness or disorder, different individuals experience Borderline Personality Disorder in different ways. A trained therapist needs to see a patient before diagnosis can be made however family members are the ones most likely to be aware of the history of a person's unusual behavior. Untreated Borderlines have painful lives. They deserve to be helped, not scorned by therapists who lack an understanding of the disorder. Borderline Personality Disorder is common and can now be treated with a combination of medication; psychotherapy and self help techniques.

Here is a list of popular and professional books that you may be able to find at your local bookseller.

Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder -- by Marsha M. Linehan; Paperback

Lost in the Mirror: An Inside Look at Borderline Personality Disorder -- by Richard A. Moskovitz M.D.

Stop Walking on Eggshells; Coping When Someone You Care about Has Borderline Personality Disorder -- by Paul T. Mason, et al; Paperback

Borderline and Beyond: A Program of Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder (Bpd)

by Laura Paxton

The Angry Heart : Overcoming Borderline and Addictive Disorders: An Interactive Self-Help Guide

Eclipses: Behind the Borderline Personality Disorder

by Melissa Ford Thornton, et al (Paperback - November 1997)

Through the Looking Glass: Women and Borderline Personality Disorder (New Directions in Theory and Psychology)

by Dana Becker (Paperback - June 1997)

Clinical Faces of Childhood: The Hysterical Child, the Anxious Child, the Borderline Child (The Master Work Series)

by E. James Anthony(Editor), Doris C. Gilpin(Editor) (Paperback - September 1994

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