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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 is a serious 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 signs and symptoms of borderline personality disorder are highlighted in the diagnostic criteria that is outlined in the DSM-5. According to the DSM-5, to be diagnosed with BPD a young person 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.

BPD directly affects how one feels about him or herself, one’s behavior as well as how one can relate to others. Teens 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.

Self-harm, also known as self-mutilation or self-injury, is considered a pervasive problem in several mental health conditions but is especially prevalent in BPD. Self-harm, including nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI), which is defined as “self-directed and intentional behavior that causes harm or destruction to bodily tissue without the intent to die” and suicidal behavior (SB), is an important symptom and risk in the context of BPD. Previous research points particularly to the role of NSSI in the early detection of the development of BPD symptomatology during adolescence.

There is a recognized connection between borderline personality disorder and self-harm in teens. The main functions of self-harm include “affect-regulation, anti-dissociation, self-punishment, interpersonal influence, anti-suicide, interpersonal boundaries, and sensation-seeking.” In BPD, the inability to regulate emotions is the most likely association with self-harming behaviors. A young person with BPD uses self-harming behaviors to ascertain some form of control. Research shows that individuals with BPD report more frequent, severe, and versatile NSSI compared to self-injurers without BPD. It is important to note that not all teens with BPD engage in self-harming behaviors, and self-harm can occur in individuals without BPD as well.

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.


We are available to answer any questions you may have regarding mental health treatment and our residential program, anytime. Contact us today using the form to the right.

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