Borderline Personality Disorder

Overview

Borderline personality disorder is a mental illness characterized by long-term emotional instability. Someone with borderline personality disorder may suffer from mood swings, impulsiveness, and distorted self-image,making lasting relationships difficult. Although borderline personality disorder is a serious and frustrating illness, there are treatments to help manage symptoms and improve functioning.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

People with borderline personality disorder are unsure of their identity, which affects how they feel about themselves, relate to others, and behave. Common symptoms of borderline personality disorder include impulsive, risky, or destructive behavior, episodes of intense anxiety or depression, difficulty controlling emotions, and feelings of self-hate. These behaviors can lead to unstable jobs, friendships, and values. People with this disorder often have dramatically shifting views of others, which can harm their relationships. Due to risky and impulsive actions, people with borderline personality disorder are more vulnerable to pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, accidents, and physical violence.

Borderline personality disorder is typically diagnosed in adults because similar signs of the disorder in children often disappear by adulthood. A diagnosis of borderline personality disorder is determined through a psychological evaluation, assessment of medical history and symptoms, and criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). To receive a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, at least five of the following criteria must be met: intense fear of abandonment, patterns of unstable relationships, unstable self-image, impulsive and destructive behaviors, suicidal behavior or self-injury, mood swings, chronic feelings of emptiness, anger issues, and periods of paranoia. Many professionals find diagnosing borderline personality disorder difficult since these criteria could apply to several mental conditions, such as mood and anxiety disorders.

Causes

The exact cause of borderline personality disorder is not known, but experts believe it arises from a combination of genetics, environmental factors, and brain abnormalities. Personality is influenced by experiences during childhood, so people who have suffered from childhood abuse, neglect, or separation often develop borderline personality disorder. It also seems to be more common in people with a family history of mental illness. Changes inserotonin and areas of the brain that control emotions may also play a role in the development of borderline personality disorder. Continue reading for Prevention and Treatment Information . . .

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