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What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, Borderline Personality Disorder BPD) is a severe mental illness that is characterized by volatile moods, behaviors and relationships. This means that these individuals will experience problems controlling their emotions and regulating their thoughts. They will also engage in impulsively reckless behaviors and unstable relationships with others.

Common Intrapersonal Symptoms

People with BPD experience unclear and unstable self-image. This means that they oscillate between feeling good and bad about themselves. These people will abruptly change what they want out of life or expect out of others, so they often change jobs, friends, partners, values, goals and even religions.

For example, they may suddenly change careers, experience intense regret and then blame others for their situation. Impulsivity and self-destructive behaviors are two common warning signs of BPD. This means engaging in dangerous and exhilarating actions, such as shoplifting, binge eating, squandering money, driving recklessly and over using drugs or alcohol. While these risky behaviors help the person temporarily feel better, they cause long-term harm in the long run.

Common Interpersonal Symptoms

People with BPD tend to have unstable relationships that are intensely short. They may quickly fall in love, but then suddenly become disappointed. Relationships shift between either perfect or terrible and during the transition, people with BPD may express volatile anger, jealousy and bitterness. This is because people with BPD often fear being abandoned, so when a friend or partner is late, this may trigger intense fear that is manifested through rage.

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People with BPD often experience chronic feelings of emptiness that is marked by explosive anger and self-control issues. Additional warning signs include self-harm, such as suicidal thinking or threats, and extreme mood swings that usually last just a few minutes or hours.

What Causes BPD?

The majority of mental health professionals believe that BPD is caused by a combination of genetics, individual biological factors and external environmental factors. This translates to a history of mental health problems in the family with common co-occurring disorders, such as depression, bipolar disorder, substance abuse and eating disorders. When the individual experiences traumatic experiences in their childhood, the likeliness of BPD occurring is very high. Researchers and scientists are still striving to understand how the brain and neurological system are different in people with BPD. It is known that the brains of people with BPD will be on high alert, so they will experience more stress, fear and anxiety.

Treatment Goals

Most psychotherapists share similar treatment goals for BPD.

First, they will help these clients overcome their fears of abandonment by developing confidence and clear thinking. Second, they will help their clients reduce their unstable love-hate relationships by developing patience and understanding. Third, clients must develop a positive, consistent self-image through positive thinking and the avoidance of self-victimization and suicidal behavior.

Impulsive and self-damaging behavior must be controlled through adjusting social and physical environments, such as entering a substance abuse treatment facility and terminating contact with unhealthy friends. Stress and anger management training is an important goal because this will reduce extreme emotional reactivity to minor issues.

Borderline Personality Disorder is a serious mental health problem that can be successfully treated through psychotherapy and support from family and friends.