Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) at a Glimpse

Broadly speaking, BPD-ers struggle with rapid and intense mood shifts (e.g., crying spells, angry outbursts), impulsive behaviors (excessive spending, over-eating), suicidal threats or attempts, and self-harm (e.g., cutting).

It is not uncommon for BDP-ers to suffer a co-existing condition such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and substance abuse.

Go to Test Kit for a screener on Borderline Personality Disorder.  (This is not equivalent to a diagnostic assessment completed by a professional, but it offers preliminary pointers on the likelihood of having this condition.)

How BPD Affects Relationships

In particular, because BPD distorts and ruptures relational dynamics, it presents a unique challenge to those suffering from it, as well as to their loved ones. As BPD-ers are often plagued by unstable and unhelpful relational patterns, it is as much a relational illness as a mental one. As a previous patient of mine once said, “I am a life-ruiner.” An insightful statement in her case, albeit a sad one.

If you or someone close to you suffers from BPD, you will often notice a stormy quality to their emotions. While many of them can hold jobs, their private emotional life is in turmoil. They become particularly triggered around threats of abandonment, perceived or imagined.

What Will Help This Group

Though a serious condition, BPD is highly treatable. Therapy helps this group tremendously, but it will be important to help them find the right therapist.

If someone you love is suffering from BPD, these are tips that will help you navigate the BPD world.

  • Listening without judgment.
  • Be reminded they are grappling with emotions that are very difficult for them (yes, and likewise difficult for you).
  • They can be struggling with low self-worth and self-esteem.  You will encounter resistance if you try to talk them out of it.  Listening-to-understand often works better.
  • When relating to them, remember empathy. (Scroll down for an illustration of empathy.)
  • Sometimes you might feel helpless when trying to support them. But know that your being there means a lot to them.
  • If you are family of a BPD-er, self-care is importance. You need to be in an emotionally balanced place to support them.
  • They might be secretly grappling with guilt for putting you through so much.
  • Encourage them to seek therapy.

NIMH shows a comprehensive list of BPD symptoms.