What's in this article?
A personality disorder is a pattern of feelings and behaviour that seem appropriate and justified to the person experiencing them, even though these feelings and behaviour cause a great deal of problems in that person’s life.
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a personality disorder that typically includes the following symptoms:
- Inappropriate or extreme emotional reactions
- Highly impulsive behaviour
- A history of unstable relationships
Intense mood swings, impulsive behaviour, and extreme reactions can make it difficult for people with borderline personality disorder to complete schooling, maintain stable jobs and have long-lasting, healthy relationships.
Signs & Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline personality disorder affects how you feel about yourself, how you relate to others and how you behave.
Signs and symptoms may include:
- An intense fear of abandonment, even going to extreme measures to avoid real or imagined separation or rejection
- A pattern of unstable intense relationships, such as idealising someone one moment and then suddenly believing the person doesn’t care enough or is cruel
- Rapid changes in self-identity and self-image that include shifting goals and values, and seeing yourself as bad or as if you don’t exist at all
- Periods of stress-related paranoia and loss of contact with reality, lasting from a few minutes to a few hours
- Impulsive and risky behaviour, such as gambling, reckless driving, unsafe sex, spending sprees, binge eating or drug abuse, or sabotaging success by suddenly quitting a good job or ending a positive relationship
- Suicidal threats or behaviour or self-injury, often in response to fear of separation or rejection
- Wide mood swings lasting from a few hours to a few days, which can include intense happiness, irritability, shame or anxiety
- Ongoing feelings of emptiness
- Inappropriate, intense anger, such as frequently losing your temper, being sarcastic or bitter, or having physical fights
Causes of Borderline Personality Disorder
The causes of BPD are unclear. However, as with most conditions, BPD appears to result from a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Traumatic events that occur during childhood are associated with developing BPD. Many people with BPD will have experienced parental neglect or physical, sexual or emotional abuse during their childhood.
Borderline Personality Disorder and Suicidal
Around 80 percent of people with borderline personality disorder display suicidal behaviors, including suicide attempts, cutting themselves, burning themselves, and other self-destructive acts. It is estimated that between 4 and 9 percent of people with BPD will die by suicide.
When to seek medical advice
If you’re experiencing symptoms of BPD, make an appointment with your GP. They may ask about:
- how you feel
- your recent behaviour
- what sort of impact your symptoms have had on your quality of life
This is to rule out other more common mental health conditions, such as depression, and to make sure there’s no immediate risk to your health and well being.