Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a psychological disorder with varying symptoms and treatments. While all mental disorders require treatment, many people with personality disorders fail to get adequate therapy because they do not want to admit that something may be wrong. They may even fear being ridiculed for seeking professional help. Even though there is a stigma attached to mental health disorders, you should never be ashamed of seeking treatment.
This is noteworthy because folks who have been diagnosed or undiagnosed with a borderline personality disorder often have problems within their family and seek and find a therapist they can trust. Therapy for this type of disorder focuses on treating both the symptoms and the potential causation for their mental illness. While borderline personality disorder cannot be cured, treating personality disorders can help patients live a better-quality life than those who do not seek a treatment plan.
How Do I Know If I Or Someone I Know Has Borderline Personality Disorder?
A borderline personality disorder is a mental illness characterized by long patterns of strong emotional reactions, fears of abandonment, and substance abuse. Other symptoms of BPD may include:
While this is not a complete list of symptoms for BPD, these are the more common findings among those who have BPD. Also, keep in mind that another mood disorder may be responsible for these symptoms. A mental health professional can adequately diagnose conditions, including those with a BPD, as opposed to a mood disorder, stress disorder, or other mental disorders. While having a mental health disorder can be stressful, therapy focuses on helping the person manage their mental illness.
Treatments For Borderline Personality Disorder
There are several medically acceptable types of psychotherapy to treat BPD. As with any personality disorder, intense and long-durational talk therapy and online therapy focuses are a good way to keep symptoms in check.
One of the types of psychotherapy for BPD is schema-focused therapy. In cognitive psychology, a schema is an organized pattern of thought and behavior. This type of talk therapy is best for those who experience abandonment issues and people with hypersensitive trigger reactions to seemingly harmless conversations. Many of these symptoms stem from childhood or adolescence abuse. It is not uncommon for those diagnosed with BPD to have a history of trauma or sexual abuse. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a common comorbidity of BPD.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy
Dialectical Behavior Therapy DBT is another acceptable therapy for personality disorders. Dialectic, a Greek word, means conversation with opposing views. In Behavior Therapy, patients with mood disorders and substance abuse issues work with a clinician to talk about different situations and develop appropriate responses and behaviors.
For people who have triggers that lead to substantial reactions, DBT provides coping skills to apply to events, thoughts, behaviors, and feelings to avoid explosive or undesired reactions that affect interpersonal relationships. DBT is an appropriate and successful talk therapy for those with BPD or spectrum mood disorders.
For those with a BPD, Transference-focused Psychotherapy is a type of therapy that patients typically attend two times per week. This highly structured treatment plan focuses on distorted perceptions of oneself and others. TFP has been shown to change how patients think about themselves in relationships and works on unreconciled conflicts with others due to mental health issues, including BPD.
Another treatment for BPD is mentalization-based therapy MBT. What often stands out is that borderline personality disorder patients often benefit from several forms of therapy simultaneously. Mentalization-based therapy is a positive way of treating BPD for several reasons.
MBT brings together aspects of psychodynamic, systematic, cognitive-behavioral, and ecological therapeutic approaches. The goal of using MBT to treat BPD is to increase the patient’s mentalization capacity and reduce the likelihood of harmful behaviors to one’s self or others.
Additional goals of mentalization-based therapy include:
MBT is typically conducted two times per week and consists of both group and individual therapy sessions. Group sessions are essential as they help patients with BPD function around others. Patients also learn not to feel personally attacked by others and interact appropriately and healthily.
What Causes Borderline Personality Disorder?
While the exact causation of BPD is impossible to pinpoint, there are groups of people who are more likely to be diagnosed with mental illness.
BPD usually begins in early adulthood and affects more women than men. In fact, 75 percent of those diagnosed with BPD are women. While some people get better with age, these are usually folks who have sought treatment for the disorder. The number of undiagnosed people with a BPD is unknown. However, there are 16 million Americans diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder.
Left untreated, interpersonal relations will typically significantly suffer, patients may become clinically depressed, and substance abuse issues may prioritize. Those with BPD do not need to suffer or feel alone. There is treatment available to help those with BPD and other mental health conditions.
BPD is not uncommon in those who were physically, mentally, or sexually abused as children. Those with a family history of BPD are at a higher risk of developing the condition. Research has shown that 40 to 71 percent of BPD patients report having been sexually abused. These assaults have been by both related and non-related caregivers.
Patients with BPD have been found to have structural and functional changes in their brains. Areas significantly affected are those that control impulses and regulate emotions. Whether the brain changes are the result of BPD or if BPD caused the changes are unknown.
Borderline Personality Disorder Does Not Just Impact The General Public
Many celebrities and world-renowned people experience BPD. Some include:
While some of these listed names may surprise you, others perhaps do not. For example, Princess Diana’s BPD was thought to stem from the divorce of her parents at a young age.
Complications Of Untreated Borderline Personality Disorder
As with any mental illness, when left untreated, complications can arise. Those who do not get treated for a BPD may:
Those with an untreated BPD often have comorbidities that compound their mental health problems. Depression, substance abuse, and eating disorders are common conditions. Additionally, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other personality or mood disorders are also possible. These disorders, including BPD, can be treated.
How Are Narcissistic Personality Disorder And Borderline Personality Disorder Related?
While narcissistic personality disorder and borderline personality disorder may have similarities in their symptomatology, they are two different disorders. The two conditions may, however, be, in fact, comorbidities of each other. This could make separating the two diagnoses hard to disseminate from one another. Only a mental health professional can make each diagnosis and determine if you have one or both conditions.
Borderline Personality Disorder is a mental health condition that, if left untreated, can have disastrous results. Personal relationships may suffer, are prone to alcohol or drug use, and other unhealthy tendencies may occur. The best course of action is to seek the help of a mental health professional and engage in regular counseling sessions. While there is no cure for BPD, symptoms can be controlled and, with intensive counseling, your BPD can become easier to manage.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
There are many potential triggers for a person with borderline personality disorder, and what triggers one person may be different than what triggers another. One of the most common triggers, however, is due to their personal relationships with others. If they feel that they are being ignored, rejected, criticized, or abandoned, then those feelings may trigger other symptoms of their condition.
Another common type of trigger is a cognitive trigger. These are typically memories, images, or objects of an experience of trauma or loss. For others, it may be an intense memory of a happier time that triggers the person by making them think that their life isn’t as good now.
Borderline personality disorder can be stressful because it can be hard to know exactly what will trigger you. In addition, the symptoms of borderline personality disorder are extreme and can put a strain on your personal relationships even when people are familiar with your condition.
Currently, there is no cure for borderline personality disorder. However, the symptoms of borderline personality disorder can be treated with therapy and managed with coping mechanisms. There are no FDA-approved medications used to treat BPD. However, many anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications can be used to help manage symptoms.
Often other occurring disorders are present at the same time as BPD. These other occurring disorders can include post-traumatic stress disorder, other stress disorders, anxiety disorder, and depression disorder. These other mental health disorders are typically much more manageable through medications. By managing the simultaneously occurring disorders, you can better treat BPD.
Unfortunately, medical providers are still trying to learn about borderline personality disorder, so it is important to find a knowledgeable therapist in your condition. Talk therapy is a particularly effective method to treat BPD.
While BPD was once thought to be a lifelong condition, recent research shows that that may not be the case. Most cases of BPD are not diagnosed until adulthood, and it is sometimes hard to diagnose properly if there are other simultaneously occurring disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
The more doctors learn about borderline personality disorder and its interactions with other mental health disorders, the better they can treat it. The manual of mental disorders (DSM V) has recently determined that the condition can be diagnosed at a younger age, provided that the symptoms are pervasive and persistent.
With this new change to the manual of mental disorders (DSM V), patients can be diagnosed sooner and begin treatment earlier. This, in turn, can reduce the severity of symptoms and reduce the number of episodes they are likely to experience.
Treatment courses for BPD typically last from 1-3 years. However, many patients will notice a significant decrease in their symptoms within 6-12 months of beginning treatment. During this time, the patient will work with their therapist to determine their triggers and develop coping mechanisms for those triggers.
Some patients may eventually experience relapses of serious symptoms; however, many people with BPD can live productive lives.
It is important to be able to realize and recognize when you are experiencing a BPD episode. Once you realize that you are experiencing one, there are steps that you can take to help reduce the severity of symptoms as well as help you manage your triggers. These include:
You may have to experiment with a few different things to learn what relaxes you and relieves your symptoms. Speak with your doctor or therapist if your self-relaxation techniques aren’t working.
The most important thing that you can do is let the person know that you are there for them and aren’t going anywhere. Many people with BPD are terrified of the thought of being abandoned and may feel that they are isolated. Listen to them by giving them your full attention, and be sympathetic to their concerns.
Do your best to remain calm, even if they are acting out. They are not in control of their emotions during an episode, and they don’t mean what they are saying or doing. By remaining calm and not becoming defensive or aggressive, you can help them calm down from their episode faster.
Try to distract them from their emotions. Suggest exercising, listening to music, or doing something physical such as gardening to get them to get out their anxious energy and to help them calm down.
Brandon Marshall, a famous NFL wide receiver, has BPD. He is an outspoken advocate for mental health awareness and is the founder of Project 365, which seeks to educate others about mental health.