Borderline Personality Disorder

Facts About Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a condition characterized by difficulties regulating emotion. This means that people who experience BPD feel emotions intensely and for extended periods of time, and it is harder for them to return to a stable baseline after an emotionally triggering event. This difficulty can lead to impulsivity, poor self-image, stormy relationships and intense emotional responses to stressors. Struggling with self-regulation can also result in dangerous behaviors such as self-harm (e.g. cutting).

It’s estimated that 1.4% of the adult U.S. population experiences BPD. Nearly 75% of people diagnosed with BPD are women. Recent research suggests that men may be equally affected by BPD, but are commonly misdiagnosed with PTSD or depression.

Symptoms of BPD

People with BPD experience wide mood swings and can feel a great sense of instability and insecurity. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual diagnostic framework, some key signs and symptoms may include:

  • Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment by friends and family.
  • Unstable personal relationships that alternate between idealization (“I’m so in love!”) and devaluation (“I hate her”). This is also sometimes known as “splitting.”
  • Distorted and unstable self-image, which affects moods, values, opinions, goals and relationships.
  • Impulsive behaviors that can have dangerous outcomes, such as excessive spending, unsafe sex, substance abuse or reckless driving.
  • Self-harming behavior, including suicidal threats or attempts.
  • Periods of intense depressed mood, irritability or anxiety lasting a few hours to a few days.
  • Chronic feelings of boredom or emptiness.
  • Inappropriate, intense or uncontrollable anger—often followed by shame and guilt.
  • Dissociative feelings—disconnecting from your thoughts or sense of identity or “out-of-body” type of feelings—and stress-related paranoid thoughts. Severe cases of stress can also lead to brief psychotic episodes.

Treatment and Support for Those Living with Borderline Personality Disorder and Their Families

Treatment options include psychotherapy; medications; and group, peer and family support.

We also recommend our NAMI support groups and classes for those living with mental health conditions, as well as their families and loved ones; find a local support group run by a California affiliate.

More on NAMI National’s website.

Community Voices

10 Things People With Borderline Personality Disorder Want You To Know (NAMI National blog)

I’m Still Here (NAMI National blog)

Supporting Someone with Borderline Personality Disorder (NAMI National blog)

More stories and posts coming soon. Telling personal stories of recovery can be one of the most effective ways to diminish stigma and help individuals and families who are facing challenges related to mental health conditions. Submit your story for consideration.