Individuals with a close family member with borderline may have an increased risk of developing the disorder themselves.
Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline personality disorder is a mental health condition that features difficulty regulating emotions, unstable relationships, and low self-image. Although the individual desires lasting relationships, the angry outbursts, fear of abandonment, and mood swings undermine that effort.
About Borderline Personality Disorder
This type of personality disorder is a complex mental health disorder that usually emerges by early adulthood and affects more women than men. Impulsivity, self-image disturbance, and a feeling of emptiness characterize borderline personality disorder. A common feature of the disorder is a low self-image that accompanies an intense fear of abandonment. Believing themselves unworthy of love they are driven to extreme attempts to avoid the imagined upcoming abandonment.
The resulting emotional instability caused by borderline personality disorder contributes to impaired daily functioning and significant psychological distress. Substance abuse is a common comorbidity, as alcohol or drugs are often used as a coping mechanism to manage the discomfort brought on by the symptoms. Co-occurring addiction necessitates a dual diagnosis treatment program.
Causes of Borderline Personality Disorder
There is currently no clear-cut cause identified by scientific research that explains how borderline personality disorder develops. However, risk factors that possibly contribute to the development of the disorder include:
- Brain factors
Brain imaging studies have shown structural and functional abnormalities in the limbic region where impulse control and emotional regulation occur.
- Environmental and social
Traumatic life events, such as physical or sexual abuse, abandonment, general adversity, or interpersonal instability may be factors in developing borderline personality disorder.
Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder
Individuals with borderline personality disorder exhibit a wide array of symptoms, many of which will shift dramatically from day to day. These individuals tend to think in extremes, such as black or white thinking, which makes them difficult to get along with.
Symptoms associated with borderline personality disorder include:
- Anger and angry outbursts
- Compulsive behaviors, including self-harming, engaging in risky sex, and substance abuse
- Unstable relationships
- Difficulty regulating emotions, extreme mood swings
- Dissociation, seeing oneself from outside the body
- Intense fear of real or imagined abandonment
- Difficulty trusting others, suspicious of people’s intentions
- Distorted self-image, low self-esteem
- Chronic feelings of emptiness
- Suicidal thoughts
Diagnosis of borderline personality disorder is confounded with co-occurring psychological disorders. These might include depression, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, or substance use disorders. The presence of a coexisting disorder complicates the diagnostic process and the treatment protocol, as each issue must be adequately addressed.
Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline personality disorder is challenging to treat, although early interventions will net better outcomes. Treatment for borderline personality disorder may include:
- Individual psychotherapy
Talk therapy is an essential treatment element for borderline personality disorder. Evidence-based psychotherapies used for treating borderline include dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), schema-focused therapy, mentalization-based therapy (MBT), and acceptance and commitment therapy.
- Group therapy
DBT skills training and utilizing CBT techniques are essential aspects of group therapy sessions. The small group format provides a safe space for opening up and sharing personal experiences and emotions under the facilitation of a licensed therapist.
There are no specific drugs for treating borderline personality disorder, but some medications can help with the symptoms, such as antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, and antidepressants.
- Addiction treatment
If a substance use disorder co-occurs with the disorder it will be treated simultaneously with the mental health disorder
- Complementary activities
Some experiential or holistic activities can help the individual learn to better regulate their emotions and reduce stress. These might include practicing mindfulness, yoga, guided meditation, or therapeutic massage.
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