What is Borderline Personality Disorder

As many as 18 million adults in the U.S. have been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), a serious mental health condition that features a range of intense behaviors. Current research describes BPD as a disorder of emotional dysregulation. What does that mean? It means that people with BPD have a great deal of trouble controlling their emotions. They feel things very quickly and very intensely and it takes them a long time to bring their emotions back under control.

People with BPD tend to function in the extremes, especially in their relationships with others. Their emotions can rage out of control and their anger can be explosive. Events that may seem routine and non-confrontational to non-BDP people often trigger extreme emotional reactions in those with BPD. In addition, they may experience dramatic mood swings, impulsive behaviors and the urge to harm themselves. People with BPD are also prone to depression, anxiety, substance abuse, loneliness, irrational thinking and feeling detached from the rest of the world.

Making and maintaining relationships with other people is often difficult for a person with BPD. The broad range of extreme behaviors tends to push others away. This in turn, fuels an intense fear of abandonment within the person who has BPD, often triggering the associated behaviors.

BPD tendencies typically arise in early adulthood; however, some individuals begin to show symptoms of the disorder much earlier. Symptoms of BPD can mimic developmental behaviors typical of adolescence (e.g. the unstable mood swings, depression, anxiety). The primary difference between BPD and adolescent behaviors is that during adolescence these symptoms occur for brief periods of time, whereas a person with BPD is likely to have more long-lasting and constant episodes. For this and other reasons, many therapists won’t make a diagnosis of BPD until the child turns 18. Others may simply not recognize BPD or are reluctant to make the diagnosis, even in the presence of symptoms. As a result many people who have BPD go untreated for years and suffer needlessly as a result.   CAUSES→