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Borderline personality disorder

Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 2 minutes read

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a lifelong mental health condition that is characterized by difficulties in regulating emotions and interacting with others. It is also known as an emotionally unstable personality disorder, and is a common and well-known type of personality disorder.

What are the symptoms of BPD?

People with BPD experience the world in a unique way compared to someone without the condition. They may feel and respond differently to certain situations because they understand and perceive it differently. People with BPD may experience extreme mood changes, shifting quickly between emotions.

They can be impulsive and have the inability to think logically when overcome by emotion. They may find themselves engaging in intense relationships, which can end up being volatile. They can also have a sudden change in perception of themselves and others, leading to a tendency to judge people as all good or all bad.

Sadly, there is an increased association between self-harm and suicide with BPD. This comes alongside an increased link to other mental health problems, such as alcohol and substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and eating disorders.

Who is at risk of BPD?

The cause of BPD remains unclear. There seems to be a family link, with an increased chance of developing BPD if someone in your immediate family has been diagnosed with it. Difficult life events and extreme stress, including childhood trauma and abuse, may increase your risk of developing BPD.

How do I know if I have BPD?

While there is no test available for BPD, your doctor will refer you to a psychiatrist who will be able to diagnose BPD clinically by learning about your symptoms, life experiences, and past and present relationships. If you are worried about the possibility of any mental health problems, it would be best to speak further with your doctor. They would want to know what you are worried about and whether there is anything they can do to help.

How is it treated?

BPD can be treated and managed well with a variety of lifestyle changes, talking therapies, and medications. Treatment is tailored specifically to each person, and no one-size-fits-all solution exists. The best place to start is to speak to your doctor, they will discuss the options with you and, if needed, can refer you for a talking therapy or discuss medications.

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This article has been written by UK-based doctors and pharmacists, so some advice may not apply to US users and some suggested treatments may not be available. For more information, please see our T&Cs.
Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
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