Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic, mental health disorder. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) defines borderline personality disorder as an “illness marked by an ongoing pattern of varying moods, self-image, and behavior.” The symptoms of BPD usually stem from an inconsistent self-concept. As is explained by the Mayo Clinic “with borderline personality disorder, you have an intense fear of abandonment or instability, and you may have difficulty tolerating being alone. Yet inappropriate anger, impulsiveness, and frequent mood swings may push others away, even though you want to have loving, and lasting relationships.” Common signs and symptoms associated with BPD may include any combination of the following examples, provided by the Cleveland Clinic:
- Ongoing feelings of emptiness
- Frequent displays of intense anger
- Stress-related, fleeting paranoia
- Risky behavior (e.g., gambling, having unsafe sex, etc.)
- Fear of being alone
- Fragile self-image
- Erratic moods
- Suicidal behavior
- Threats of self-injury
Young people with borderline personality disorder often struggle with relationship issues, lack self-esteem, have a poor self-image, and have an inability to appropriately self-regulate.
DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria
There is no definitive medical test to diagnose borderline personality disorder. According to the DSM-5, borderline personality disorder is diagnosed when a person experiences “a pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image and affects, and marked impulsivity beginning by early adulthood” and must experience five or more of the following symptoms in a variety of contexts:
- Emotional instability
- Feelings of emptiness
- Efforts to avoid abandonment
- Impulsive behaviors
- Identity disturbances
- Inappropriate, irrational and/ or intense bouts of anger
- Transient paranoid and/ or dissociative symptoms
- Unstable interpersonal relationships
- Suicidal and/ or self-harming behaviors
The symptoms that manifest because of borderline personality disorder often mimic those of other mental health disorders (e.g., histrionic personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, bipolar personality etc.). In fact, BPD is one of the most commonly misdiagnosed mental health conditions. Nevertheless, the only way to truly know whether you have borderline personality disorder is to undergo a comprehensive evaluation that is conducted by one or more qualified mental health professionals.
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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