Just like physical ailments, mental health issues, and mood disorders come in many different styles. Some people have problems with substance abuse, while others suffer from intense emotions, like fear, anxiety, or depression. While figuring out the root of the problem can be tricky, it can help you identify the appropriate treatment method.
One unusually large part of psychology deals with the concept of “personality disorders.” A personality disorder is a mental illness or health condition characterized by unhealthy patterns of thought and action. Usually, people with a personality disorder may suffer from things like unstable moods or problems dealing with certain scenarios.
Today, we’re going to discuss personality disorders and explain one of the most common ailments in this category: borderline personality disorder.
What is a Personality Disorder?
Let’s start simple. Personality disorders are mental health issues characterized by inflexible patterns of thought and feelings. People with these conditions are often victims of things like impulsive behavior. They may even have a hard time getting along with other people and dealing with circumstances that other people consider to be simple.
With a psychiatric disorder like BPD, or borderline personality disorder, a person may be unable to see that their behavior is harmful to themselves or others. They may blame other people for their challenges or struggle to manage their emotional instability. This often leads to difficulties in relationships that can cause people to feel isolated.
When people with a mood disorder feel isolated, they may begin to develop secondary issues alongside their BPD symptoms. For instance, it’s common for psychiatry professionals to recognize depression and anxiety disorders alongside BPD.
The exact cause of a personality disorder isn’t always clear. Some people believe that these issues stem from childhood trauma, while others think that BPD sufferers are victims of genetic and environmental issues. While there’s no restriction on who might experience a personality disorder, these conditions tend to emerge in early adulthood or the teenage years.
What is Borderline Personality Disorder?
Crucially, there are many different kinds of personality disorders. These mental disorders are often grouped into clusters based on the type of symptoms you’re most likely to experience. For instance, a “Type B” personality disorder refers to people who have a mental health condition characterized by impulsive and emotional behavior.
Type B personality disorders include things like antisocial personality disorder. People with this condition tend to manipulate other people and may lie, steal, cheat, or abuse alcohol. Different kinds of type B mental health disorders include:
- Histrionic personality disorder: People with this condition are hungry for attention. They try to capture the focus of as many people as possible by being incredibly dramatic or sexually provocative. These people are often easily influenced by other people and frequently expose themselves to a lot of risk factors.
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder: People with this mental health disorder feel that they’re more important than others. These individuals might exaggerate their achievements and often brag about their accomplishments. People with narcissistic tendencies have a deep need for admiration but don’t experience much empathy for others.
- Borderline personality disorder: Those with BPD, or borderline personality disorder, feel abandoned and unloved. They struggle with interpersonal relationship issues and often engage in impulsive behavior. Like individuals with bipolar disorder, people with BPD might suffer from regular mood swings and paranoia issues.
How Can You Tell if Someone has Borderline Personality Disorder?
The only way to know for sure if someone has a personality disorder is to see a medical professional. Psychotherapy experts and psychologists can determine what kind of mental health problem you have and which sorts of treatment might work best for you.
Borderline Personality Disorder doesn’t have a specific age when it might begin to appear, but it is most often diagnosed during young adulthood. This condition usually develops during adolescence and early childhood, but it can develop at other points too. This condition often presents with a distorted self-image, unstable relationships, and impulsive behavior.
Adolescents with BPD might not notice that they have a mental health condition, making it harder to get the right treatment or therapy. BPD patients and researchers are still trying to discover the cause of borderline personality disorder. Some contributing factors may include:
- Genetics: Studies on twins indicate that the disorder does have a significant genetic component, which may indicate the need for medical treatment as well as therapy or psychotherapy.
- Environmental factors: People with BPD regularly struggle with a chronic feeling of intense anger or sadness. This problem may occur after growing up in a neglectful, abusive, or unstable environment.
- Abnormalities: Anyone who experiences regular mood swings could suffer from defects in their serotonin hormone. Abnormalities in the way that a patient develops serotonin make them more susceptible to mental health issues.
Although scientists are still researching the underlying factors of BPD, some elements can increase your risk. If you often feel emotionally unstable or vulnerable, you might be more at risk of developing BPD. If the people in your household are often impulsive, you may benefit from family therapy to reduce the chances of developing borderline personality disorder.
What are the 9 Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder
Mental health problems often present with a variety of different symptoms. Not everyone responds to issues with their mental health in the same way. That’s why it’s often so difficult to define a particular disorder. However, the American Psychiatric Association and other professionals do define a series of recurring symptoms in association with BPD.
Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Constant attempts to avoid feelings of abandonment
- Issues with unstable relationships where you either devalue or idealize people
- Unstable images of self-identity that influence how you feel
- Impulsive activity in at least a few areas of your life – such as spending too much money or having issues with substance abuse.
- Frequent, but sometimes, intense mood swings that can last for a few hours or even a few days
- Suicidal ideation or behavior- you may have a history of suicidal behavior
- Difficulty controlling your anger- you may get angry without cause or display your anger frequently
- Periods of stress-related paranoia and dissociation may occur when your mind feels like it’s detached from your body or emotions
- Severe or long-term feelings of emptiness and incompletion
If you’re worried that you have borderline personality disorder symptoms, the best thing you can do is speak to a medical professional. Your doctor can refer you to a mental health professional who can discuss different kinds of therapy and treatment with you. A mental health professional will ask you questions to further understand your borderline disorder.
How Serious is Borderline Personality Disorder?
All personality disorder issues can cause a lot of problems for the people that suffer from them. Without the right treatment and therapy from a mental health professional, it may be exceedingly difficult for you to live a life where you feel completely happy. People who have borderline personality disorder might have a hard time making the right decisions in life.
People with this condition will often tell lies to avoid feelings of shame. At the same time, they struggle with relationships because they don’t know how to manage their intense emotions. If your mental health provider feels that you might have BPD, they will refer you to a therapist.
People with borderline personality disorder can get better with the right therapy and treatment. Treatment options include everything from psychotherapy to dialectical behavioral therapy and even hospitalization if you’re feeling suicidal.
Treatments for BPD might include:
- Psychotherapy: This the primary treatment for BPD. Your mental health professional may recommend cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), and schema-focused therapy. CBT helps with identifying and changing unhealthy beliefs and inaccurate perceptions you have about yourself and others. DBT tells you how to recognize and accept your beliefs and behaviors. You also learn more positive responses to implement in your daily life. Schema-focused therapy helps you to see the world more positively.
- Medication: While medication will not cure borderline personality disorder, it does relieve some symptoms. Your doctor may prescribe medication in the form of mood stabilizers. Antidepressants treat depression, while antipsychotics address more aggressive symptoms. Anti-anxiety pills may be an option in these cases too.
- Hospitalization: If your symptoms become more severe, your doctor might recommend that you stay in the hospital for treatment. You may also be hospitalized if you have any suicidal thoughts or conduct yourself in a suicidal way. This will provide you with more consistent treatment to help you overcome your condition.
Research is currently ongoing into alternative forms of treatment for people with conditions like BPD. Some researchers believe that omega-3 fatty acids will relieve symptoms of aggression and depression in people with BPD. More research is required to confirm these studies.
What Triggers a Person with Borderline Personality Disorder?
Like many people with mental health issues, those who have borderline personality disorder may find that specific circumstances or actions trigger uncomfortable feelings. BPD increases your risk of various other conditions like anxiety disorder, substance abuse, bipolar disorder, and depression.
Your BPD symptoms can also worsen when you experience issues with work, relationships, or any kind of sickness or ailment. People with this condition can often feel incredibly nervous and angry about the world around them.
The biggest problem that people with BPD often have is that they can struggle with rocky relationships. Relationship issues can affect both romantic and platonic experiences. For instance, a person with BPD might be affectionate or doting, but they can quickly find that their emotional state switches and suddenly feel overwhelmed or smothered.
With the right support from friends and family members, a person with BPD can easily have a successful relationship or even many. The key to success is getting the proper treatment to help these people understand their emotions and responses.
Can a person with BPD really love?
While a romantic relationship with someone with this condition can be stormy, relationships can still be successful. People with BPD can be very affectionate and caring. There are times when a person with BPD will be very physical and keen to spend a lot of time with their partner. At the same time, people with BPD are sensitive to rejection or abandonment, which can cause them to act impulsively.
When a person with BPD senses a shift in their partner’s feelings, they may withdraw, become angry, hurt, or distant. In other cases, these people might become obsessive. These emotional conditions are often challenging to handle and lead to dangerous behavior that puts both the person and their partner at risk.
Making a relationship work when one or both people have BPD means getting the right treatment or support. If you or your partner has BPD, you can look at therapeutic strategies to cope with the cycles of emotion that this condition causes. This helps with building a more reliable connection.
Aside from accessing therapy and other treatment options, experts will often recommend that the family members and partners of people with BPD:
- Seek professional help: Getting therapy as the partner of someone with BPD can help you learn how to better process emotions and events that upset you. Partners of BPD can often benefit from therapy because they need an outlet for their feelings.
- Learn about BPD: Part of caring for a partner with BPD is understanding the kinds of cycles that they go through—understanding the emotions that your partner experiences will help you respond in a way that protects you from additional chaos.
- Offer emotional support: Someone with BPD is likely to feel very isolated and empty at times. As their partner, you can offer them patience and understanding. Over time, the right support will make it easier for these people to learn appropriate behaviors.
Like any mental health condition, BPD issues are much easier to overcome when you get the right help. Don’t try to tackle the problem alone.