Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

What Is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and other personality disorders experience strong emotions that flare up and diminish rapidly, often within hours. With few understanding the source of their feelings, people living with BPD get little or no sympathy from those around them.

BPD is often characterized by mood swings, relationship instability, difficulties with long-term planning and impulse control, and problems with self-identity. One of the key symptoms is an obsessive fear of abandonment—desperately wanting close relationships while simultaneously pushing people away with impulsive, irrational behavior. Individuals diagnosed with BPD have an elevated incidence of self-harm and suicidal gestures.

a young girl joining hands in thought as she looks away while her therapist talks to her

Diagnosing BPD

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), about 1.6% of U.S. adults are diagnosed with BPD, but it could be as high as 5.9%. Nearly 75% of those diagnosed with BPD are women and often require hospitalization because of the severity of their symptoms.

Individuals diagnosed with BPD have symptoms identified with the mnemonic PRAISE:

  • Paranoid ideas
  • Relationship instability
  • Abandonment fears, angry outbursts, affective instability
  • Identity disturbance, impulsive behavior
  • Suicidal behavior
  • Emptiness

Because of the severe instability of emotions and impulsive behaviors, individuals with BPD tend to feel like they’re losing their mind or that they’re misunderstood. Often, they are perceived as emotionally unstable from those who know them and have difficulties maintaining jobs, completing their education, or experiencing fulfilling relationships.

Common Symptoms of BPD

Note: Because these symptoms don’t always indicate the presence of BPD, please contact your physician or mental health treatment provider to obtain an accurate diagnosis.

Treatment for BPD

Fortunately, BPD can be treated successfully, but treatment must be long-term within a consistent and empathetic but firm therapeutic frame.

Lifeskills offers a comprehensive Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Pathway that is primarily used to treat BPD and emotional dysregulation. It’s a 13-week curriculum that includes a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and Zen Buddhism with treatment focusing on homework, learning new skills, and mindfulness. During the DBT Pathway clients learn to balance acceptance and change. Components of the DBT Pathway include:

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