What Is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Have you ever imagined what it feels like to step on quicksand? The floor under your feet constantly shifting and leaving you unbalanced, scared and even defensive.

This is the feeling of people with Borderline Personality Disorder (TPB).

There are effective treatments for BPD and coping skills that can help people with this problem. Find out more in this post!

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

A personality disorder can be described as a way of being, feeling, perceiving and relating to others, which deviates from the standard considered “normal” or healthy. That is, it causes suffering for the person and / or for the next person.

Borderline Personality Disorder also called Borderline Personality Disorder is a mental illness marked by a continuous pattern of mood, self-image and varied behavior.

These symptoms often result in impulsive actions and problems in relationships.

People with borderline personality disorder may experience intense episodes of anger, depression and anxiety, which can last from a few hours to days.

Where did the name come from?

The term “borderline”, which in English means “borderline”, originated in psychoanalysis: these patients could not be classified as neurotic (anxious and exaggerated), nor as psychotic (who see reality in a distorted way), but they would be in a intermediate state between these two spectra.

The first author to use the term was the American psychoanalyst Adolph Stern, in 1938, who described the disorder as a type of “psychic hemorrhage” in the face of frustrations.

One of the ironies of this disorder is that people with BPD may desire closeness, but their intense and unstable emotional responses tend to alienate others, causing feelings of isolation in the long run.

Signals and symptons

People with borderline personality disorder may experience mood swings and show uncertainty about how they see themselves, and their role in the world.

As a result, your interests and values ​​can change quickly.

They also tend to see things in extremes, as if everything is too good or too bad. In addition, your opinions about other people can also change quickly.

An individual who is seen as a friend one day can be considered an enemy or a traitor the next day. These shifting feelings can lead to intense and unstable relationships.

Intense mood swings, impulsive behaviors and extreme reactions can make it difficult for people with borderline personality disorder to complete their studies, maintain stable jobs and have healthy and lasting relationships.

Other signs or symptoms:

Symptoms of borderline personality disorder vary from person to person and women are more likely to have this disorder than men.

Common symptoms of the disorder include:

  • Have an unstable or dysfunctional self-image, or a distorted sense of yourself (how someone feels about himself);
  • Feelings of isolation, boredom and emptiness;
  • Difficulty in empathizing with others;
  • A history of unstable relationships that can drastically change from intense love and idealization to intense hatred;
  • A persistent fear of abandonment and rejection, including extreme emotional reactions to real and even perceived abandonment;
  • Intense and highly variable moods that can last for several days or just a few hours;
  • Strong feelings of anxiety, worry and depression;
  • Impulsive, risky, self-destructive and dangerous behaviors, including reckless driving, drug or alcohol abuse and unsafe sex;
  • Hostility;
  • Unstable career plans, goals and aspirations.

Many people experience one or more of the above symptoms regularly.

But a person with borderline personality disorder will experience many of the symptoms listed above consistently throughout adulthood.

Symptoms are not the same for everyone

Not everyone with borderline personality disorder experiences any symptoms.

Some individuals experience only a few, while others have many.

Symptoms can be triggered by seemingly common events.

For example, people with borderline personality disorder may be angry and distressed by small separations from people with whom they feel close, such as on a business trip.

The severity and frequency of symptoms and how long they last, vary according to the individual and his illness.

Sensitivity

People with BPD tend to be extremely sensitive.

Some describe them as having an exposed nerve end. Small things can trigger intense reactions. And once upset, the person has trouble calming down.

It is easy to understand how this emotional volatility and the inability to calm down lead to turbulence in relationships and impulsive behavior – even recklessness.

When you are suffering from overwhelming emotions, you cannot think straight or remain on the ground.

You can say hurtful things or act in a dangerous or inappropriate manner, and then feel guilty or ashamed. It is a painful cycle that may seem impossible to escape.

Risk factors

The cause of borderline personality disorder remains unclear, but research suggests that genetics, brain structure and function, and environmental, cultural and social factors play a role or may increase the risk of developing borderline personality disorder.

Family History –  People who have a close family member, such as a parent or sibling with the disorder, may be at greater risk of developing a borderline personality disorder.

Brain factors – Studies show that people with borderline personality disorder may have structural and functional changes in the brain, especially in areas that control impulses and emotional regulation. But it is not clear whether these changes are risk factors for the disorder or caused by it.

Environmental, cultural and social factors – Many people with borderline personality disorder report traumatic life events, such as abuse, abandonment or adversity during childhood. Others may have been exposed to unstable relationships and conflicts.

Although these factors can increase a person’s risk, it does not mean that he or she develops a borderline personality disorder.

Likewise, there may be people without these risk factors who will develop borderline personality disorder during their lifetime.

Borderline personality disorder and suicide

About 80% of people with borderline personality disorder have suicidal behaviors, including suicide attempts, cutting themselves, burning themselves and other self-destructive acts.

It is estimated that between 4 and 9% of people with BPD commit suicide.

How borderline personality disorder can affect relationships

People with borderline personality disorder often have difficult and platonic relationships. 

Romantic relationships present a unique set of challenges for people with BPD and their partners.

The symptoms of the disease can cause constant changes in emotions. For example, a person with BPD can be affectionate and caring, but within a few hours, their emotional state can change. 

They may feel suffocated or overwhelmed. This can cause them to alienate the partner.

What if you are in a relationship with someone with TPB?

A romantic relationship with someone with BPD can, in a word, be stormy.

It is not uncommon to experience a lot of turbulence and dysfunction.

However, people with this disorder can be exceptionally considerate, compassionate and affectionate.

In fact, some find this level of devotion for a partner pleasant. A borderline person can also be very attached and eager to spend a lot of time with their partner.

At the same time, people with BPD are sensitive to abandonment or rejection. Many are hyperfocused on perceived signs that a romantic partner is not happy or can leave him.

When a person with a borderline feels a change in their partner’s feelings, whether real or imagined, they can withdraw immediately.

In addition, she may be angry and hurt and may even become obsessive.

Emotional changes

These emotional changes can be difficult to deal with.

Sometimes they can lead to uncomfortable public scenes.

The impulsive behavior of a person with BPD can also put him or his partner at risk.

However, a partner’s stability can have a positive effect on the emotional sensitivities that people with this disorder experience.

It can take a lot of work from both, but long-term relationships and marriages are possible for people with BPD.

How does borderline affect your relationships, if you have

The most common behaviors and symptoms of BPD can be harmful to any relationship.

If you have been diagnosed with the disease, you probably already know this.

People with this disorder are more likely to have many romantic relationships, which are usually short-lived.

This may have happened because you purposely broke up for fear that your partner will do it first. It may also be because he is not comfortable with so many difficulties.

It is important to know that you can have a healthy relationship despite your personality disorder.

Treatment, along with a strong support network, can help you find stability in your emotional state and in your relationships.

Help for Borderline Personality Disorder

Living with borderline personality disorder or being in a relationship with someone with BPD can be stressful.

In a way, it is very difficult to recognize and accept the reality of the disorder but treatment can help.

If you are concerned that you or someone close to you may have borderline personality disorder, contact a licensed mental health professional.

Many professionals are available to help you start your healing path.

Since the problem can be a complex condition and treatment usually requires long-term conversation therapy, it will be important to find someone with experience in treating this condition.

It is possible to learn how to better manage feelings and find ways to have healthier and more fulfilling relationships.

With the help of therapy one can learn how to reduce impulsive and self-destructive behaviors and understand more about the condition.

With a commitment to long-term treatment, positive and healthy changes are within reach.

Borderline is treatable

In the past, many mental health professionals found it difficult to treat borderline personality disorder so they concluded that there was little to be done.

But now we know that it is treatable.

In fact, the long-term prognosis is better than that of depression and bipolar disorder. However, it requires a specialized approach.

The bottom line is that most people with BPD can and do improve – and do so quickly with the right treatments and supports.

Healing is a matter of breaking the dysfunctional patterns of thinking, feeling and behavior that are causing distress.

It is not easy to change habits throughout life. Choosing to pause, reflect, and then act in new ways will seem unnatural and uncomfortable at first.

But over time, you will form new habits that will help you maintain your emotional balance and stay in control.

Diagnosis

Personality disorders, including borderline personality disorder, are diagnosed based on:

  • Detailed interview with your doctor or mental health professional;
  • Psychological assessment which may include filling in questionnaires;
  • Medical history and examination;
  • Discussion of your signs and symptoms.

A diagnosis of borderline personality disorder is usually made in adults, not children or adolescents.

This is because what appear to be signs and symptoms of borderline personality disorder may disappear as children age and become more mature.

Treatment

Borderline personality disorder is treated primarily with psychotherapy, but medications can be added.

Your doctor may also recommend hospitalization if your safety is at risk.

Treatment can help you learn skills to manage and deal with your condition.

It is also necessary for any other mental health disorder that usually occurs along with borderline personality disorder, such as depression or substance misuse.

With treatment, you can feel better about yourself and live a more stable and fulfilling life.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy – also called speech therapy – is a fundamental treatment approach for borderline personality disorder.

Your therapist can adapt the type of therapy to best suit your needs. The goals of psychotherapy are to help you:

  • Focus on your current ability to function;
  • Learn to manage emotions that feel uncomfortable;
  • Reduce your impulsiveness by helping you to observe feelings, instead of acting on them;
  • Work to improve relationships, aware of your feelings and others;
  • Learn about borderline personality disorder.

Why seek treatment?

Studies show that people with borderline personality disorder who do not receive adequate treatment may have:

  • Less likely to make healthy lifestyle choices;
  • Borderline personality disorder is also associated with a significantly higher rate of self-harm and suicidal behavior than the general public;
  • People with borderline personality disorder who are thinking about getting hurt or trying to commit suicide need help right away;
  • Increased likelihood of developing other chronic medical or mental illnesses.

How to Improve Relationship with a Borderline Person

  • Learn about the problem. Part of caring for a partner with BPD is understanding what they are up against. Understanding the level of emotional disturbance he experiences can help you respond in a way that protects you from further chaos.
  • Seek professional help. Therapy can help borderline people learn how to better process emotions and events that disturb them. Partners of people with this disorder can also benefit from therapy. A professional can help you understand how to react, understand and support.
  • Offer emotional support. Someone with BPD may feel very isolated because of his past. Offer your partner understanding and patience. It is possible that he learns and behaves better.

Recovery takes time

Learning how to manage your emotions, thoughts and behavior takes time.

Most people improve considerably, but you can always experience some symptoms of borderline personality disorder.

You can experience times when things are better or worse.

However, treatment can improve your ability to function and help you feel better about yourself.

So if you suffer from Boderline Personality Disorder or know someone with this problem, don’t lose hope. Get help!

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