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. It characterized by a pervasive pattern of instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image issues, and difficulty managing emotions and behaviors, which interfere with one’s ability to function in everyday life. It is impossible to describe what all people with borderline personality disorder are like, as everyone is unique. There are, however, certain aspects of the disorder that influence how a person with BPD interacts with the world around them. The symptoms of BPD will often result in reckless and hasty actions, negatively affecting one’s relationships.
The most effective way to understand the behaviors of an individuals with BPD, and what they are like, is to be aware of the symptoms of borderline personality disorder. The symptoms associated with borderline personality disorder can pervasively interfere with an individual’s ability to function optimally in his or her daily life. Common symptoms of borderline personality disorder can include any combination of the following examples, provided by the Mayo Clinic:
- Ongoing feelings of emptiness
- Risky behavior (e.g., gambling, having unsafe sex, etc.)
- Intense fear of being alone or abandoned
- Fragile self-image
- Unstable relationships
- Erratic moods
- Frequent displays of intense anger
- Stress-related, fleeting paranoia
- Suicidal behavior
- Threats of self-injury
It is not uncommon for people with BPD to feel extremely intense emotions for extended periods of time. This makes returning to a stable emotional baseline far more challenging, especially after experiencing an emotionally triggering event.
A trigger, in relation to BPD typically refers to something that precipitates the exacerbation of one’s BPD symptoms. Johns Hopkins Medicine explains “Triggers are external events or circumstances that may produce very uncomfortable emotional or psychiatric symptoms, such as anxiety, panic, discouragement, despair, or negative self-talk.” While BPD triggers can vary from person to person, there are some types of triggers that are common in BPD. Examples of commonly reported BPD triggers can include, but are not limited to the following:
- Perceived or real abandonment
- Rejection of any kind
- Loss of a job
- Locations that invoke negative memories
- Reminders of traumatic events
- Ending a relationship
Many borderline personality disorder triggers arise from interpersonal distress. The cause for borderline personality disorder remains unknown. However, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) alludes to research that “suggests that genetics, brain structure and function, and environmental, cultural, and social factors play a role, or may increase the risk for developing borderline personality disorder.” Most commonly, BPD develops in early adulthood, often with more severe symptoms occurring in the early stages of onset.
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