Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder
Learn About Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental illness that causes significant fluctuation in a person’s emotions, leaving him or her feeling severely emotionally unstable. People with BPD suffer from inflexible patterns of inner experiences that result in inconsistent outward behaviors. Individuals suffering from borderline personality disorder endure everyday battles with conflicting images of themselves, with dramatic shifts in mood and thought patterns, and with tumultuous relationships.
Borderline Personality Disorder Statistics
It is estimated that anywhere between six to ten million Americans are affected by borderline personality disorder. This equates to about 2-6% of the general population and is twice the amount of people who are diagnosed with both bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
Borderline personality disorder is strikingly more prominent in women than it is in men. In fact, studies have shown that 75-90% of all people diagnosed with BPD are women. It is possible that this could simply be due to the fact that women are more apt to seek treatment for the disorder than men are, or it could potentially be due to the fact that sometimes the way that the symptoms of BPD present themselves in men lead to a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder as opposed to BPD.
Causes and Risk Factors
Causes and Risk Factors for Borderline Personality Disorder
Some causes and risk factors that could possibly contribute to the onset of BPD can include:
Genetic: Studies that have been conducted in families of individuals diagnosed with BPD have shown that first-degree relatives of those individuals are approximately 10 times more likely to develop symptoms of the illness as well. That being said, the amount of impact that genetics has on the development and presence of BPD has yet to be conclusively identified.
Physical: Studies on brains of people with borderline personality disorder have shown abnormalities in the aspects of the brain that affect proper functioning. Those specific brain pathways and circuits act as behavioral functions of emotion information processing, impulse control, perception, and reasoning. When there is a disruption in this functioning, symptoms of BPD may result.
Environmental: It has been said that social and cultural factors can play a role in putting people at risk for developing borderline personality disorder. Living in an environment where a lot of family instability or discord exists or where one is surrounded by individuals who tend to act impulsively and use poor judgment, may cause one to be more susceptible to developing traits that are symptomatic of BPD.
- Family history of mental illness
- Family discord
- Poor parenting or the absence of parents while growing up
- Repeated physical, sexual, or emotional abuse
Signs and Symptoms
Signs and Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder
The signs and symptoms of borderline personality disorder will vary from person to person, and the severity of the symptoms can fluctuate throughout time. Some examples of possible signs that a person is suffering from borderline personality disorder can include:
- Acting impulsively
- Participating in reckless and dangerous behaviors
- Extreme reactions to types of abandonment (whether real or perceived)
- Inability to control anger
- Intense, “stormy” relationships (alternating between feelings of idealization and devaluation of loved ones)
- Chronic feelings of emptiness
- Chronic feelings of boredom
- Intense mood swings
- Unstable, fluctuating image of self
- Suicidal thoughts and behaviors
Effects of Borderline Personality Disorder
Unfortunately, borderline personality disorder can exist within a person for a long time before it is properly diagnosed. Once it is diagnosed, there are treatment options available that can help a person manage his or her symptoms. If left untreated, however, the following are examples of effects that can result:
- Demoralized sense of self
- Weight fluctuations
- Self-harming behaviors
- Suicidal ideation
- Death by suicide (10% of people diagnosed with BPD are said to commit suicide)
Borderline Personality Disorder and Co-Occurring Disorders
Examples of disorders that have been known to co-occur alongside borderline personality disorder include:
- Depressive disorders
- Anxiety disorders
- Bipolar disorder
- Substance abuse and addiction
- Eating disorders
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)