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Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD): Symptoms and Treatment Options 

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD): Symptoms and Treatment Options

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is not often discussed, however, it is a serious mental health condition. In order to ensure a positive quality of life once diagnosed, extensive treatment is necessary. To put it into perspective, BPD patients account for around 20% of psychiatric hospitalizations. The majority of BPD diagnoses are women. The term “Borderline Personality Disorder” name stems from the original thought that this illness represents a ‘border’ between psychosis and neurosis.

Symptoms Of Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder is a condition where the diagnosed person has long term patterns of unstable or turbulent emotions. Pervasive patterns of mood instability, unstable interpersonal relationships, negative self-image, and harmful behaviors are common characteristics. Individuals often experience an inability to distinguish reality from personal misperceptions of the world around them.

According to Shauna Springer, Ph.D., people diagnosed with this disorder have issues with emotional regulation. Diagnosis follows a thorough psychological examination, where the primary health care provider would determine the severity of the symptoms.

Below are seven symptoms of borderline personality disorder:

  1. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.
  2. Impulsive and often dangerous behaviors, such as spending sprees, unsafe sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, and binge eating.
  3. Inappropriate, intense anger or problems controlling anger.
  4. Intense and highly changeable moods, with each episode lasting from a few hours to a few days.
  5. A pattern of intense and unstable relationships with family, friends, and loved ones. This often swings from extreme closeness and love (idealization) to extreme dislike or anger (devaluation).
  6. Chronic feelings of emptiness.
  7. Having stress-related paranoid thoughts.

Risk Factors Of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

As with most mental illnesses, there are no definitive causes. There are, however, risk factors that are influence the emergence of the condition.

Possible risk factors are:

  1. Either real or fear of abandonment in childhood or adolescence
  2. Disrupted family life
  3. Poor communication in the family
  4. Sexual, physical, or emotional abuse

Other risk factors include genetics, brain chemistry, as well as environmental and social factors. The disorder is five times more likely to occur in persons who have a close family member with the disease.

Treatment Options For BPD

Psychotherapy, whether within individual or group settings, is the main treatment method for borderline personality disorder. The types of psychotherapy used to treat the disorder are:

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)
  • Schema-Focused Therapy
  • Systems Training for Emotional Predictability and Problem Solving (STEPPS)

Medication is prescribed to enhance the function of serotonin in the brain. Antipsychotic drugs are prescribed to alleviate distortions in thought. However, medication would not be the main source of treatment. Suicidal thoughts linked to possible overdose is a significant concern.

What To Do If You Think You May Have BPD

Here are just a couple of suggestions for what to do when you may think you have BPD:

  • Talk to your doctor about treatment options and stick with prescribed treatment, even though this may require a significant length of time.
  • Identify and seek out comforting situations, places, and people.
  • Try to spend time with other people and confide in a trusted friend or family member.
  • If a family member is diagnosed with BPD, offer emotional support, understanding, patience, and encouragement.
  • If you or a loved one is contemplating suicide, seek immediate help from mental health or primary care professionals.

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