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What Are the 9 Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder?

The common signs and symptoms of borderline personality disorder (BPD) may include Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. A pattern of intense and unstable relationships with family, friends, and loved ones, often swinging from idealization (extreme closeness and love) to devaluation (extreme dislike or anger)

The common signs and symptoms of borderline personality disorder (BPD) may include:

  • Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
  • A pattern of intense and unstable relationships with family, friends, and loved ones, often swinging from idealization (extreme closeness and love) to devaluation (extreme dislike or anger)
  • Distorted and unstable self-image or sense of self
  • Impulsive and often dangerous behaviors such as spending sprees, unsafe sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, and binge eating
  • Recurring suicidal behaviors or threats or self-harming behavior such as cutting
  • Intense and highly changeable moods with each episode lasting from a few hours to a few days
  • Severe feelings of emptiness which tend to recur
  • Inappropriate, intense anger or problems controlling anger
  • Having paranoid thoughts
  • Feeling cut off from oneself, observing oneself from outside the body, or losing touch with reality

What is borderline personality disorder?

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental health condition in which a person has long-term patterns of unstable or turbulent emotions. These inner experiences often result in impulsive actions and chaotic relationships with other people. Patients with this mental illness have difficulties controlling their emotions, which can lead to various stressful mental and behavioral problems. Patients with BPD may have a severely distorted self-image and feel worthless. Additionally, their anger, impulsiveness, and frequent mood swings tend to push people away, although they have a desire to have loving and lasting relationships.


  • Cause of BPD is unknown.
  • Genetic, family, and social factors are thought to play roles.

Risk factors for BPD include:

  • Abandonment in childhood or adolescence
  • Disrupted family life
  • Poor communication in the family
  • Sexual, physical, or emotional abuse
  • Substance abuse
  • Lack of appropriate parenting/absence of parents during childhood
  • Chaotic home environment

This personality disorder tends to occur more often in women and among hospitalized psychiatric patients.

Treatment options:

Psychotherapy: This deals with emotional baggage and a tendency to repress emotions.

  • In the psychotherapy approach, the therapist attempts to link present feelings, thoughts, and symptoms to unconscious meanings derived from early life experiences (childhood sexual abuse).
  • By linking the present to the past, patients with BPD are given a new understanding that allows them to change their behavior.

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT):

  • It is a psychosocial treatment developed specifically for BPD.
  • DBT usually has individual and group therapy components.
  • In the individual therapy sessions, the therapist develops an environment in which the patient’s feelings are recognized as legitimate and acceptable combined with an insistence on the need to change.
  • In the group sessions, the patient works on specific coping skills that are divided into four modules: core mindfulness (being aware of what is going on within oneself), interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance, and emotion regulation.


  • Medications have been found to be only moderately effective in treating the symptoms of BPD.
  • Therapists commonly prescribe selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to help control depressive symptoms.
  • Mood stabilizers such as lithium or certain anticonvulsant agents may be used to help control impulsiveness and explosive anger.
  • Therapists may also use neuroleptic (antipsychotic) drugs when the individual shows distortions in thinking or psychotic symptoms.

It is common for individuals with BPD to be diagnosed with other mental health disorders. Some of the most common of these co-occurring disorders include:

  • Depressive disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Substance abuse or dependency
  • Bipolar disorder

The prognosis for BPD used to be grim. New treatment methods have changed that. Patients should follow the treatment team’s guidelines. Attending therapy sessions regularly and taking medicine as prescribed by the therapist can help reduce how often the symptoms occur and how severe they are. Remission is common in patients who seek out and follow through with treatment. It can take some time to improve their well-being with therapy and medication. It’s important to stick with the treatment. The outlook of treatment depends on how severe the condition is and whether the person is willing to accept help. With long-term talk therapy, the person often gradually improves.


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Medically Reviewed on 4/14/2021


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