Characterised by mood swings, low self-esteem, nagging insecurities, and intense emotions, borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a complex mental health condition. Friends, loved ones, and even colleagues might find the behaviour of someone with BPD challenging to deal with. Likewise, they may label them as needy or emotional.
The truth is, borderline personality disorder is a very real disorder. All feelings are valid, and the behaviours associated aren’t something to be ashamed of. Unfortunately, borderline personality disorder can affect daily life and relationships when left untreated, so it’s always best to secure appropriate treatment.
What Is Borderline Personality Disorder?
One of many personality disorders, BPD – otherwise known as emotionally unstable personality disorder – is a mental health condition that changes how individuals feel about themselves and other people. The disorder usually presents as painful emotions, mood swings, and feelings of insecurity. Borderline personality disorder typically develops by early adulthood, and symptoms are thought to improve with age.
One of the main reasons borderline personality disorder can be so difficult to deal with is because it significantly impacts relationships. For example, an individual with the disorder might worry about being abandoned or left alone. Still, mood swings and chronic feelings of impulsivity and anger can sometimes push away the people they want to keep close. Some people even find that they engage in self-destructive behaviours, letting their paranoia get the best of them.
It is important to remember that borderline personality disorder is not anyone’s fault; it is a mental illness that can cause extreme highs and lows. These intense emotions can last anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks. In cases of heightened stress, people may even feel disassociated from their bodies.
Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder
Not everyone will have the same experience with borderline personality disorder. As with all personality disorders, there are slight discrepancies in symptoms, which is why it is best for anyone struggling to seek a diagnosis from a healthcare professional. In doing so, medical professionals will be able to give the best advice moving forward and rule out any other mental health conditions.
Some of the most common symptoms people with borderline personality disorder experience include:
- Feelings of intense anger, fear, sadness, and happiness
- Extreme fear of abandonment and rejection
- Paranoia and anxiety
- Feelings of emptiness and loneliness
- Poor self-image and low self-esteem
- Suicidal thoughts
- Emotional instability
- Unstable relationships
Those with borderline personality disorder may also engage in impulsive and risky behaviours, such as unsafe sex and reckless driving.
What Causes Borderline Personality Disorder?
As with other mental health illnesses, there is no set cause. However, a few risk factors can increase the likelihood of developing borderline personality disorder. Some of the most common risk factors include:
Those with a family history of mental illness are more likely to develop borderline personality disorder, especially if a family member has a personality disorder.
People who experience childhood trauma or child abuse are more likely to develop borderline personality disorder as traumatic experiences significantly impact mental health.
This trauma can translate into adult life, causing feelings of insecurity, disassociation from the body, and extreme mood swings – all of which are symptoms of borderline personality disorder. This shows just how significant of a role environmental factors play in the development of mental health problems.
Some research has suggested that brain abnormalities can cause borderline personality disorder to develop. This is especially true if said abnormalities have impacted the level of certain brain chemicals present, like serotonin.
Those with borderline personality disorder often have an underlying mental illness such as self-harm, bipolar disorder, or anxiety.
How is Borderline Personality Disorder Diagnosed?
During a borderline personality disorder diagnosis, a mental health professional asks a series of questions and conducts a medical review to better understand each person’s medical history and mental health.
By conducting a medical review, mental health professionals can ensure the best treatment possible is administered. They can also rule out any possible co-occurring mental health conditions.
Treating Borderline Personality Disorder
The most effective treatment for borderline personality disorder is a combination of different therapies. Although the therapy offered depends entirely on the individual being treated and the severity of their disorder, it is not uncommon for the following treatments to be provided:
- Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT)
- Family therapy
- Group therapy
However, the most popular treatment option for borderline personality disorder is psychotherapy.
Also known as talk therapy, psychotherapy involves a wide range of therapies aimed at helping those with borderline personality disorder better understand their condition and develop healthy coping mechanisms.
During psychotherapy sessions, those in treatment work closely with a mental health professional who helps them process their thoughts and feelings, identify any triggers, and arms them with the tools needed to overcome intense emotions and behaviours.
Psychological or medical treatment? When it comes to borderline personality disorder, most doctors prefer to go down the route of therapy before prescribing treatment. If therapy is not successful, medication is offered as an option. This will continue to be used in conjunction with therapy and will be reviewed regularly.
If any co-occurring disorders like bipolar disorder or depression exist, treatment programmes are adapted to cater to both conditions.
In some cases, people with borderline personality disorder will be referred to complete an intensive inpatient programme. This is usually only advised in severe cases or where suicidal thoughts are present.
24/7 care and support are available during inpatient care, and those progressing through treatment are continuously monitored.
Family therapy is extremely beneficial when it comes to helping family members understand one another, particularly the individual suffering from borderline personality disorder. It also provides the whole family with the chance to voice any feelings, concerns, or worries they may have.
Tips for Living With Borderline Personality Disorder
As a mental health condition, it is key that people with borderline personality disorder develop healthy habits that help keep them on track and in control of their emotions. Here are some things that help make living with borderline personality disorder easier:
- Adequate sleep
- A healthy and balanced diet
- Regular exercise (this can also help improve self-image)
- Staying away from alcohol and drugs
- Spending time with family members and friends
- Spending time in nature
- Mindfulness and meditation
Borderline Personality Disorder Treatment at Addcounsel
At Addcounsel, we know just how challenging it can be to live with borderline personality disorder and navigate all the different obstacles that the disorder comes hand-in-hand with. It is important for those with the disorder to remember that they are not alone, and recovery is always possible.
Our clinic treats a wide range of mental health disorders and personality disorders, including borderline personality disorder. To ensure we cater to the needs of each client, we always provide a personalised treatment programme and recovery approach.
Some of our most popular treatment options for borderline personality disorder and other mental health disorders include a wide range of talking therapies, psychological therapy, dialectical behaviour therapy, and medication if needed.
Contact Us Today
If you live with borderline personality disorder, do not suffer in silence; get the support and treatment you deserve today. Give our friendly care team a call – they will be happy to walk you through the admissions process and answer any questions you may have.