Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is characterized by unstable personal relationships, shaky self-image and impulsivity. As is the case with all personality disorders, a person must be at least 18 years old to receive a borderline personality disorder diagnosis. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (2009), borderline personality disorder affects women more often than men, particularly young women.
Borderline Personality Disorder Traits
People with BPD typically demonstrate specific borderline personality traits. These boderline personality traits exist across most, if not all, situations. In other words, a person with borderline personality disorder behaves similarly both at work and at home.
Borderline personality disorder differs from other mood disorders because the moods associated with BPD are particularly volatile. With depression, for example, a person usually experiences the same sad, hopeless mood for weeks. But with borderline personality disorder, a person may experience severe anxiety or depression that lasts a very short while–usually a day at most.
People with borderline personality disorder have a tendency to develop turbulent relationships with friends, family and significant others. They may idealize someone one minute and despise them the next. This unstable pattern of thinking carries over to other areas of their lives, causing people with BPD to frequently change their careers, long-term goals, values and even gender identity.
The symptoms of borderline personality disorder may also cause the sufferer to see himself as bad, evil or worthy of punishment. People with BPD are also terrified of abandonment. These thought patterns often lead to suicidal or self-harming behavior.
Diagnosing Borderline Personality Disorder
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), a person must be at least 18 years old and have at least five of the following symptoms in order to receive a borderline personality disorder diagnosis:
- A pattern of intense but unstable personal relationships
- Chronic suicidal behavior or self-mutilation
- Desperate efforts to avoid abandonment
- Difficulty controlling anger or experiencing intense anger in inappropriate situations
- Impulsivity in at least two potentially self-damaging areas, such as reckless driving, sex, spending or substance abuse
- Persistent feeling of emptiness
- Stress-related paranoia
- Unstable moods, including bouts of anxiety or irritability that last only a few hours
- Unstable self-image or sense of self.
A borderline personality disorder diagnosis is typically made by a licensed mental-health expert. The patient is typically interviewed about her thought patterns and behaviors. The doctor may also ask the person to complete a borderline personality disorder test or checklist to help identify symptoms.
BPD Today (n.d.). Borderline personality disorder DSM-IV criteria. Retrieved August 10, 2010, from http://www.borderlinepersonalitytoday.com/main/dsmiv.htm
Grohol, J.M. (2010). Borderline personality disorder. Retrieved August 10, 2010, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/2007/symptoms-of-borderline-personality-disorder/
Hall-Flavin, D.K. (2010). Borderline personality disorder – A clinical perspective. Retrieved August 10, 2010, from http://www.bpdfamily.com/bpdresources/nk_a103.htm
National Institute of Mental Health (2009). Borderline personality disorder. Retrieved August 10, 2010, from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/borderline-personality-disorder-fact-sheet/index.shtml