Borderline Personality Disorder, or BPD, is an often misunderstood diagnosis. In this article, we’ll go over the nine main symptoms of BPD, as well as its most effective treatment options. Although a diagnosis of BPD can seem confusing and overwhelming, help is available as long as you’re willing to reach out and ask for it.
The 8 Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder
BPD is characterized by nine main symptoms; learn more about each of them below.
1. Fear of abandonment
A notable part of this mental health disorder is fear of abandonment. This fear can be extremely intense, and it leads many people with BPD to do absolutely everything in their power to avoid any type of rejection or separation, whether it’s real or imagined. This fear of abandonment can be related to any type of relationship; it’s not limited to friendships and romantic relationships.
2. Long-term pattern of intense, unstable relationships
Those who live with Borderline Personality Disorder often have an all-or-nothing perspective of the people with whom they have relationships. This means that they may think the world of someone one day, but believe that they’re a terrible person the next day. This can lead to unstable yet intense relationships, including friendships, romantic relationships, professional relationships, family relationships, and more.
3. Unstable sense of identity and self-worth
Many people with BPD have trouble understanding who they are at their core. Their sense of identity may constantly shift depending on the situation and people they are with at the time. Their self-worth tends to fluctuate, and one perceived slight can cause a person with BPD to feel that they are worthless (even though they’re worthy of love and respect). On the other hand, people with BPD can also feel extremely confident and believe that they are better than others at times. Shifting goals and values are also a part of this symptom.
4. Paranoia and loss of contact with reality
Borderline Personality Disorder can cause paranoia as well as feelings of dissociation due to high levels of stress. These feelings can last anywhere from a few minutes to several hours at a time and maybe experienced as often as every day.
5. Impulsive and risky behavior
Examples of this type of behavior include self-sabotage, substance use, binge eating, spending sprees, reckless driving, gambling, ending positive relationships, and suddenly quitting jobs. Addiction is another type of risky behavior that’s often seen in people with BPD, with video game addiction becoming more and more common. Many people with BPD turn to video games as a way to escape reality. However, video game addiction can take over a person’s life and keep them from completing their daily tasks and responsibilities. A person with BPD and video game addiction may prioritize video games over their relationships as well, which can contribute to their pattern of unstable relationships. This site explains more about video game addiction. Generally, impulsive and risky behavior is any behavior that could cause harm to the person with BPD or to others in their life, and it’s a behavior that has not been thought through properly.
6. Mood swings
Mood swings are typically intense and cover a wide range of emotions. These mood swings can last hours or days, and many times, even the person with BPD can’t explain exactly why they occur or what caused their mood to swing from one extreme to another.
7. Feelings of emptiness
Many people with Borderline Personality Disorder experience a persistent feeling of emptiness. This is related to their unstable sense of self, as well as their unstable pattern of relationships. Many of the symptoms of BPD can contribute to an empty, hollow feeling; a person living with BPD may feel that they are only a shell of a person.
8. Intense anger
The final symptom of BPD is intense anger that is often inappropriate. For example, a person with BPD might often be sarcastic or bitter, frequently lose their temper, and engage in physical fights or altercations.
Borderline Personality Disorder Treatment
Psychotherapy is the main form of treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) has been shown to be especially effective for people living with BPD, and it was actually specifically designed with BPD in mind. DBT works by emphasizing the concept of mindfulness, which involves a focus on the situation and emotions at hand. Its goal is to strike a balance between accepting behaviors and changing them in constructive ways. It also teaches skills to improve relationships, control intense emotions, reduce self-destructive behavior, and manage distress.
In some cases, your doctor might also prescribe medication to help control the symptoms of BPD. However, there aren’t currently any medications that specifically treat Borderline Personality Disorder; any medications prescribed will target the symptoms, rather than the disorder itself.
If you or a loved one believes you may be living with Borderline Personality Disorder, don’t be afraid to reach out and get the help that you need!