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Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as one of the ten standalone personality disorders. Based on similar characteristics and overlapping symptoms, each personality disorder is grouped into one of three categories (cluster A, cluster B, and cluster C). Borderline personality disorder belongs to cluster B, which are characterized by “dramatic, overly emotional or unpredictable thinking or behavior.” Borderline personality disorder is explained as a mental health condition “in which a person has long-term patterns of unstable or turbulent emotions and these inner experiences often result in impulsive actions and chaotic relationships with other people.” It is a complex psychological condition that is characterized by pervasive instability in moods, emotions, behaviors, and interpersonal relationships which interfere with one’s ability to function in everyday life. The diagnostic criteria of personality disorders are defined in the Section II: Diagnostic Criteria and Codes of the DSM-5. According to the diagnostic criteria outlined in the DSM-5, to be diagnosed with BPD an individual must experience five or more of the following symptoms in a variety of contexts:

  1. Emotional instability
  2. Feelings of emptiness
  3. Efforts to avoid abandonment
  4. Impulsive behaviors
  5. Identity disturbances
  6. Inappropriate, irrational and/ or intense bouts of anger
  7. Transient paranoid and/ or dissociative symptoms
  8. Unstable interpersonal relationships
  9. Suicidal and/ or self-harming behaviors

Updates and revisions are contemplated and considered prior to the publishing of newer  editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The Personality and Personality Disorders Work Group for DSM-5 proposed major revisions to the Personality Disorders section included in its previous edition, DSM-IV-TR. These revisions involved a “hybrid categorical-dimensional model of personality disorders and a reduction of the number of distinct personality disorders from ten to six.” This proposal was endorsed by the DSM-5 Task Force, but was rejected by the Board of Trustees of the American Psychiatric Association. Instead, the Board indicated the Work Group’s model be placed in the Section III: Emerging Measures and Models of the DSM-5, with other items requiring additional research. Consequently, the diagnostic criteria for borderline disorder in DSM-5, Section II, have remained essentially unchanged from DSM-IV-TR.

For Information and Support 

Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times.  Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.  


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