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Borderline Personality Disorder

teenage boy and young woman facing each other and talking in grass

Teen borderline personality disorder is a debilitating mental illness. It is characterized by unstable relationships, emotional dysregulation, self-harm, sexual promiscuity, and impulsive, risk-taking behavior. Individuals with borderline personality disorder often have an intense fear of separation or abandonment and frantically try to avoid abandonment. Extremely sensitive to social and environmental situations, people with BPD may react with rage if their expectations for an event aren’t met. They may also cause significant conflict in relationships. For example, someone with borderline personality disorder may idealize a parent or friend one day and devalue them the next.

Those who suffer from BPD are usually impulsive and engage in risky behavior, such as promiscuity, gambling, substance abuse, binge eating, reckless driving or spending money irresponsibly. They may also be suicidal and may make several threats or attempts of suicide. They commonly are engaged in self harming behaviors. Their relationships are typically unstable and volatile.

3 Important Facts

  • Borderline personality disorder is relatively uncommon. About 2 percent of Americans have BPD.
  • Many people diagnosed with BPD also struggle with depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, and eating disorders.
  • More females are diagnosed with BPD than males.

Signs to look for

  • A pattern of unstable relationships
  • Impulsivity
  • Risk-taking behavior
  • Intense emotional instability
  • Self-harm (cutting, self-mutilation, etc.)
  • Suicidal feelings, threats and behavior
  • Fear of abandonment or separation anxiety
  • Feelings of emptiness
  • Self-image problems (inability to form or maintain consistent identity)
  • Inappropriate anger or rage
  • Paranoia

Next steps

If you think you or your loved one may meet the criteria for BPD, talk with a mental health professional who can evaluate your situation and make a proper diagnosis. Early diagnosis and treatment can go a long way in preventing the disorder from becoming worse. Also, with the right treatment, recovery has a much greater possibility than that of other mental illnesses. In fact, it is a widely-known fact among mental health professionals that recovery from BPD is possible. This requires the right combination of therapy, medication, education, and support groups.

Common Q and A

What is the outlook for someone with Borderline Personality Disorder?

With the right treatment, recovery is possible. Also, the intensity of the symptoms tend to decrease over time. People with the disorder are generally able to maintain better stability in their jobs and relationships by their 30s and 40s.

What causes Borderline Personality Disorder?

We don’t know the cause of borderline personality disorder but research suggests it’s a combination of biological, social, and environmental factors.

Is Borderline Personality Disorder inherited?

Evidence suggests that borderline personality disorder is, to some degree, inherited. Those with a first-degree relative with borderline personality disorder are five times more likely to get the disorder than the general population.

How do I support someone with Borderline Personality Disorder?

Living with someone who has BPD can be challenging but with the right resources, it is possible to help them recover and form a strong relationship. Talk to a mental health professional who can provide guidance and resources on supporting someone with borderline personality disorder.

Can Borderline Personality Disorder be prevented?

No. It’s not possible to prevent borderline personality disorder, but it is possible to get the right treatment. This can prevent the illness from getting worse. In addition, treatment can help the person suffering from BPD and their family members build coping strategies that can reduce the severity of the symptoms.