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The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) list ten standalone personality disorders based on similar characteristics, and each personality disorder is grouped into one of three categories (cluster A, cluster B, and cluster C). Borderline personality disorder (BPD) belongs to cluster B, which according to the Mayo Clinic are “characterized by dramatic, overly emotional or unpredictable thinking or behavior.” More specifically BPD is characterized by “a pervasive pattern of instability and hypersensitivity in interpersonal relationships, instability in self-image, extreme mood fluctuations, and impulsivity.” The symptoms associated with borderline personality disorder significantly interfere with a person’s ability to function optimally in his or her daily life. The term “borderline” was initially coined because psychiatrists believed that its symptoms hovered on the border between psychosis and neurosis. Borderline personality disorder is not uncommon, as the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) estimates that 1.4% of the adults in America experience BPD. Hence, it may be advantageous to learn how to effectively communicate with someone that has borderline personality disorder. Below are several tips that can help you communicate with someone with BPD in a healthy and productive way:

  • Increase empathy by learning as much as you can about borderline personality disorder, including understanding the symptoms and triggers.
  • Be patient.
  • Be realistic.
  • Try to separate facts from feelings.
  • Validate feelings first.
  • Listen actively and be sympathetic.
  • Seek to distract when emotions rise.
  • Avoid shame and blame.
  • Remain calm and practice de-escalation strategies when emotions heighten to diffuse the situation. 
  • Do not hesitate to walk away in situations where you would otherwise become the product of intense anger.
  • Offer constructive criticism.

It is important to bear in mind that although BPD is a chronic condition, with proper support, is it possible for a young person diagnosed with borderline personality disorder to learn strategies, techniques, and tools to effectively manage the symptoms associated with BPD, reducing the severity of symptoms experienced and increasing one’s quality of life.

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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