Borderline personality disorder (BPD), is a mental illness characterized by chronic instability in mood, behavior, relationships and self-image. People with borderline disorder have difficulty regulating their emotions, causing disruption in their personal lives, careers, long-term plans and sense of self.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (2010), borderline personality disorder affects roughly 1.6 percent of Americans over the age of 18. Borderline personality disorder is most common in young women–75 percent of people diagnosed are female, and BPD symptoms in both genders tend to decrease in intensity as a person ages (Grohol, 2010).
What Is Borderline Disorder?
BPD is most easily recognized by its main symptom: an all-encompassing pattern of unstable behaviors, emotions, relationships and self-image. People with borderline personality disorder symptoms have a very erratic sense of their own self-image, often viewing themselves as evil or deserving of punishment.
Emotions are tumultuous, often rapidly veering from one extreme to another. These patterns occur over long periods of time and across various settings. Impulsive and reckless behavior, such as drug use, risky driving, promiscuity or gambling is also common in people with borderline personality disorder.
Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder
Chronic instability and impulsiveness are just two typical BPD symptoms. Borderline personality disorder is also marked by:
- Anxiety and depression
- A pervasive pattern of intense and unstable personal relationships
- Extreme mood swings
- Identity confusion
- Intense anger that’s difficult to control
- Intense fear of abandonment
- Paranoid thoughts
- Persistent feelings of emptiness
- Recurring suicidal or self-harming behavior.
Because of their unstable sense of self, people with borderline disorder tend to make major changes in their careers, jobs, friendships and values on a frequent basis. Relationships are unstable because their feelings toward another person can change with no warning–they may adore someone one minute and loathe them the next. Frequent outbursts of temper are common. Someone with this disorder may engage in physical altercations or otherwise be prone to angry outbursts.
People with borderline personality disorder tend to have an intense fear abandonment. They react strongly to changes in plans, vacations or business trips that separate them from their families, and may see these events as rejection. A person with BPD may become extremely upset if someone is a few minutes late for an appointment, or if plans are canceled.
Suicide attempts are common in people with borderline personality disorder, as is self-injury (such as cutting or burning). Impulsive behavior and risk-taking in individuals with BPD may also put them at increased risk of accidental pregancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and rape and other violence.
Borderline personality disorder might exist concurrently with other mood disorders, including:
- Anxiety disorders
- Bipolar disorder
- Other personality disorders
- Substance abuse.
Grohol, J.M. (2010). Borderline personality disorder. Retrieved August 5, 2010, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/2007/symptoms-of-borderline-personality-disorder/
Mayo Clinic. (2010). Borderline personality disorder. Retrieved August 5, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/borderline-personality-disorder/DS00442
National Institute of Mental Health. (2009). Borderline personality disorder. Retrieved August 5, 2010, from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/borderline-personality-disorder-fact-sheet/index.shtml
National Institute of Mental Health. (2010). The numbers count: Mental disorders in America. Retrieved August 5, 2010, from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/the-numbers-count-mental-disorders-in-america/index.shtml#Borderline