Borderline Personality Disorder, or BPD, is a mental health disorder that effects 1.6% of the American population, or over four million people.
Women are far more likely to have a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder, representing 75% of people with this mental health issue.
The statistic of 1.6% of the population suffering from this disorder is actually an underestimate, as BPD can often be misdiagnosed since its symptoms can be confused with other mental health disorders such as Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, Bipolar Disorder or Major Depression.
The term “borderline” originated with psychiatrists who believed that the symptoms of BPD were “on the border” between neurosis and psychosis.
For this reason, some of the first medications used on people with BPD were antipsychotics. Since those early days of psychiatry, it has been found that antipsychotics can have a positive effect on a variety of non-psychotic disorders, including BPD. Antipsychotics have been shown to reduce anxiety, paranoid thinking, anger/hostility, and impulsivity in patients with BPD.
If you think you or someone close to you may have Borderline Personality Disorder, it is important to see a health care professional so they can make a correct diagnosis.
Let’s start with the symptoms that are typical of this ailment
Signs and Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder
- An exaggerated fear of abandonment, often using extreme measures to avoid real or imagined abandonment.
- A pattern of broken, but intense relationships, going back and forth between putting someone up on a pedestal one moment and then suddenly thinking that person doesn’t care about you at all.
- Rapid changes in self-identity and self-image. Shifting goals and passions, seeing oneself as extremely talented one moment, and worthless another moment.
- Periods of fear and disconnection with reality, lasting from a few minutes to a few hours.
- Impulsive and risky behaviour, including gambling, unsafe driving, unprotected sex, spending sprees, binge eating or drug abuse, or sabotaging success by suddenly leaving a good job or ending a fantastic relationship.
- Suicidal ideation or self-injury, often in response to fear of separation or rejection.
- Broad mood swings lasting from a few hours to a few days, which can include intense happiness, irritability, shame or anxiety.
- Ongoing feelings of emptiness or lack of desire.
- Explosive, intense anger, such as frequently losing your temper, being sarcastic or bitter, or getting into physical fights.
Where can you find a test to see if you might be suffering from BPD?
Here are some online resources where you can take a test designed to see if you or someone you love might have BPD.
So, what to do next?
If you suspect you are someone you love has Borderline Personality Disorder, you will want to get an official diagnosis from a health care professional. The diagnosis is done based on several criteria.
- A detailed interview with the health care professional
- A psychological assessment that will include tests such as those linked above
- A thorough medical history and clinical exam
- A thorough discussion of your signs and symptoms
The good news about Borderline Personality Disorder is there are treatments to help manage the signs and symptoms.
These treatments typically involve medication and psychotherapy. If the mental health professional decides you are at risk for self-harm, they may recommend hospitalization and a residential treatment program.
Medications may be prescribed for Borderline Personality Disorder including certain medications that work for depression, anxiety, impulsiveness, anger, and mood swings.
These would be antidepressants, antipsychotics or mood-stabilizing drugs.
Current medications used include Lamictal, Topiramate, Nardil, Prozac, Zoloft, Effexor and Wellbutrin. Some doctors may also prescribe tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
In the non-pharmaceutical sector, some studies have shown that giving people Borderline Personality Disorder supplements that contain omega-3 fatty acid can help reduce their tendencies towards aggression and hostility.
It will help you learn various coping skills so that your condition does not severely impact your well-being. In psychotherapy sessions, focus will be centered around :
- Your current ability to function in the day to day aspects of your life: home and work.
- Learning to manage and sit with uncomfortable emotions.
- Reduce your tendency to act impulsively by helping you pull back and observe your emotions instead of immediately acting upon them.
- Relationship enhancement: being aware not only of your feelings but the feelings of those around you.
- Educating yourself about this mental health disorder so you recognize when you are acting from the influence of it.
While Borderline Personality Disorder can be a debilitating mental illness, it does have a positive prognosis if you undergo treatment.
If you or someone you know has BPD and is struggling with symptoms and their impact on their life and the lives of those around them, it’s important to see a mental health professional who has expertise in BPD.
By outlining worries, common triggers and learning new coping mechanisms, your symptoms of BPD can be better managed. This can help improve your relationships with others as well as heal your view of yourself.