Borderline personality disorder is a type of mental health disorder. This condition causes a person to think and feel differently about themselves than what others may. This can make it hard for a person to function in daily life. Many times, borderline personality disorder will make it hard for you to control emotions and behavior and can impact the way you think about yourself. Often, it leads to instability in most relationships. Understanding it can help you recognize the need for treatment and care.
What Is Borderline Personality Disorder?
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) creates unrealistic but very real feelings of being unstable or alone. Some people with this condition suffer significantly if they are left alone. They may be impulsive and display actions that push other people away from them. Yet, most people with BPD actually fear abandonment and need to feel they belong.
This very misunderstood mental health disorder can have serious consequences, especially when left untreated. It was first called BPD in the 1930s. At that time, professionals believed people with these symptoms were in a state of mental illness between neurosis and psychosis but that they did not have the same level of mental health break that a condition like schizophrenia offers.
Over time, we’ve learned that BPD is its own type of mental health disorder. A good way to understand what makes it different is to consider it a type of disorder related to emotional regulation rather than a disorder of thought processes.
Most often, people with BPD develop the condition in early adulthood, though it can occur at any age. People with it can see improvement if they seek help and learn more about what their emotions and thought patterns mean.
BPD and Bipolar Disorder Are Different
Sometimes, people with BPD are mistaken for having bipolar disorder. Though their abbreviations are similar, there are significant differences here. Those with bipolar disorder have instances of mania or depression, which are significantly distinguishable highs and lows. That’s not what happens with BPD. Rather, this condition creates moment-to-moment changes in mood and emotions, behavior and relationships. With bipolar disorder, the changes in episodes don’t often relate to what’s happening within that moment. With BPD, conflicts and even simple interactions with other people can create these shifts.
What Types of BPD Exist?
There are several distinctive types of BPD. These are categorized based on the way a person expresses the traits and symptoms they feel. Some people are less likely to express their feelings outright, while others may be hard to control and self-harming. Common distinguishing types include:
- Discouraged Borderline BPD: In this type, a person is less likely to be assertive and more likely to express their condition as being depressed. They are more likely to self-harm than others. They feel unable to control life around them.
- Impulsive Borderline BPD: In this area, a person will be irritable, impulsive and easily distracted. They may display a constant pattern of attention-seeking behavior. Here, a person is more likely to threaten suicide or self-harm. They can also be very unpredictable in behavior, overly dramatic and routinely emotional about everyday activities.
- Petulant Borderline BPD: Those within this subgroup are likely to be easily disappointed and pessimistic about life and activities. They resent various aspects of life and may be stubborn to change. They are defiant and tend to be critical of everything around them. They also push people away, especially when they feel the need for attention. They hope the person they are pushing away demonstrates that they will not leave.
- Self-Destructive Borderline BPD: In this area, a person is likely to have self-punishing behavior. Some are masochistic. Many are introverted and very moody. They are most likely to act out in anger or resentment. In some situations, they will conform to expectations and then lash out. Many are at a higher risk of suicide.
In all situations, those with BPD can have a milder form or a severe form of the subtype. They do not have to display all of these symptoms to be classified in any one group.
What Are the Effects of BPD on Your Life?
A person displaying traits of BPD is likely to see an impact on every aspect of their daily lives. Because there is little control in these constant mood swings, it can impact most types of relationships. Consider some of the symptoms of the condition to see how this can change a person’s behavior throughout any given day.
- A person may have an irrational fear of abandonment, leading to their avoidance of ever being alone.
- Recurrent thoughts of suicide can occur, including gestures and outward threats.
- Chronic feelings of being empty or lacking purpose are common, often making them apathetic to the day’s happenings.
- Impulsiveness can strain relationships as well as put individuals at risk. Some demonstrate this through the use of substances.
- Anger and rage episodes can cause a variety of complications to day-to-day activities, making school and work difficult to manage.
- Relationships tend to be very strained, especially when other people don’t understand what is happening.
Recognizing how this impacts day-to-day life can be a challenge for someone looking into the situation. A person with BPD may seem to have everything they want and need but constantly seem hard to deal with and even emotionally unstable at times.
Health Effects and Complications From BPD
Complications impact most people with BPD in various ways. In terms of the health effects, this condition may lead to:
- Self-injury and harm, such as burning or cutting oneself
- Suicidal thoughts
- Risky behavior leading to complications such as unwanted pregnancies and substance abuse
- Frequent hospitalizations for dangerous activities, such as vehicle accidents or aggressive behavior
Additionally, many develop or have other mental health complications, such as:
- Eating disorders
- Anxiety disorders
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Other types of personality disorders
With BPD some of the most common complications from the condition include:
- Inability to maintain relationships
- Inability to complete school or maintain a job
- Marital stress including divorce
- Abusive relationships (either the abuser or the person being abused)
How Is BPD Diagnosed?
Most often, clinicians will spend some time monitoring behavior to make a formal diagnosis of BPD. However, it’s not uncommon for people with this condition to seek out help because they want to stop feeling the way they do. Therapists may work to understand the potential causes of this condition to better understand what is happening.
In many situations, self-harm or suicide attempts will land a person in the hospital. They may receive counseling and support at that time to pinpoint their condition. Unfortunately, many people find themselves getting help for the first time in this manner.
What Causes BPD to Occur?
There are many personality disorders, including this one, that are not fully understood by doctors. There are many potential causes for this condition, including potential environmental factors such as having a history of abuse.
Doctors also believe that changes in some areas of the brain can cause BPD to manifest. This includes in areas such as impulsivity, aggression and emotion regulation. This may be due to the brain’s structural differences as well as the amount and type of chemicals produced in the brain. For example, some research suggests poor production of serotonin may cause BPD to occur.
Genetics and BPD
There is some evidence that those with BPD are likely to have it as a result of genetics. It may be an inherited condition along with other types of mental health disorders in some families. However, this is not always the case.
Stress in Childhood
In many situations, there is a concern about abuse during childhood. This can accelerate the presence of many types of mental health disorders, including BPD. For example, if a child is sexually or physically abused at a young age or suffers significant neglect, this can cause a lack of emotional control and acting out. Those who have been in unstable relationships or those exposed to high-risk or violent incidents may also be at a higher risk.
Co-Occurring Disorders With BPD
People with BPD are more likely to suffer from other mental health disorders as well, including:
- Bipolar disorder
- Antisocial personality disorder
- Anxiety disorders
- Substance abuse disorders
- Post-traumatic stress disorders
- Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder
- Mood disorders
As a result, it is important for those who have this condition or any of the symptoms of it to seek help.
Get Help for BPD at FHE Health
FHE Health provides treatment for those with borderline personality disorder and other mental health disorders. Speak to our compassionate counselors now about treatment and for immediate help. Call 833-596-3502.