Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) may be better described by the name 'emotionally unstable personality disorder'. While emotional instability is defined as a separate illness, the manual for classification of mental health lists it as an alternate definition of BPD. The two exhibit many of the same symptoms and often respond to similar treatments. Borderline personality disorder causes frequent disturbances in mood and rapid changes in thinking, which lead to the lack of stability with self-image, identity and in relationships.


Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder


Borderline personality disorder causes many symptoms that lead to often erratic and unusual behavior. Extreme anxiety or panic may be two of the underlying stimuli that lead to a reaction of perceived rejection or failure. This excessive tension may cause any number of the following symptoms:

  • Frenzied efforts to maintain a sense of safety
  • Impulsive behavior, such as reckless driving, substance abuse, sex or shopping
  • Instability of sense of self
  • Chronic suicidal thoughts and behaviors, such as threats, gestures or self-mutilation
  • Recurrent feelings of emptiness
  • Dissociative behavior
  • Rapid, frequent and severe mood swings
  • Unstable relationships with family, friends, co-workers and significant others


Causes of Borderline Personality Disorder


The exact causes of borderline personality disorder are complex and differ among patients. As with most mental illness, it's difficult to pinpoint an exact event that may have led to the disorder, but research suggests many possible theories ranging from genetic predisposition to environmental influence. An abnormality in the brain may contribute to symptoms, while post-traumatic stress encourages the disorder to develop in people who are susceptible. Trauma experienced in childhood or during adolescence may lead to dissociative symptoms, also causing borderline personality disorder.


Diagnosing Borderline Personality Disorder


In order to be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, a clinical evaluation must take place. This should be conducted by a trained psychologist or psychiatrist and will often include a behavioral assessment, questions regarding thoughts, feelings and behavioral tendencies and an overview of family medical history. There are several different types of borderline personality disorder, such as impulsive, self-destructive and discouraged, each exhibiting different forms of the symptoms. Not only may a psychoanalysis lead to a diagnosis of this disorder, but it can also reveal certain characteristics that may require special attention in treatment.


Treatment Options for Borderline Personality Disorder


There are many treatment options available for borderline personality disorder, but the discovery of the most successful treatments will be based upon trial and error. Traditional forms of treatment, such as medication or prescriptions are generally not recommended for this disorder, due to the instability already present. Occasionally, when certain symptoms like depression, anxiety or self-mutilation are present, a mild form of medication may be prescribed specifically for these symptoms. Generally speaking, therapy will likely produce the most success in relieving symptoms and teaching the patient to recognize certain behavior. There are many different options for therapy, and following is a brief description of helpful suggestions:

  • Inpatient hospitalization – inpatient treatment often results from one or more attempts at suicide or excessive self-mutilation. Patients may experience a brief or extended period of psychiatric care, depending upon success and signs of improvement.
  • Psychotherapy – therapy sessions with a trusted professional can help the patient to become aware of negative behaviors and learn to recognize triggering events which may lead to unstable behavior patterns.
  • Alternative remedies – many forms of research show that alternative remedies such as the use of herbs, meditation and relaxation exercises can bring about whole wellness of the body, mind and spirit. Patients with this disorder may find the research and results both stimulating and beneficial.