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Borderline Personality Disorder: A Comprehensive Guide

Borderline Personality Disorder: A Comprehensive Guide

Recognizing the symptoms of borderline personality disorder can be the first step towards getting the right help. If you notice erratic mood swings, pervasive fear of abandonment, or sudden impulsive behavior, you may be experiencing Borderline Personality Disorder. This article cuts through the complexity, offering direct insight into symptoms without drowning you in medical jargon or exhaustive lists. 

Key conclusions

  • Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is characterised by intense emotional swings, deep fear of abandonment and impulsive risk-taking behaviours, which can lead to self-destructive actions, unstable relationships and difficulties in daily functioning.
  • A proper diagnosis of BPD involves a comprehensive assessment by mental health professionals, which includes an examination of symptoms, personal experiences and family medical history, which is crucial to developing an effective treatment strategy.
  • Effective treatments for BPD include Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), tailored medications to manage symptoms, and family therapy to provide supportive environments that help improve relationships and emotional regulation.

The symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

 Borderline Personality Disorder

Strong emotional storms and turbulent relationships are just some of the symptoms that characterize Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), also known as emotionally unstable personality disorder, for many people. These symptoms, including mood swings, fear of abandonment, and impulsivity, can significantly hinder a person's ability to live a fulfilling life.

It is important to differentiate BPD from other mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder and personality disorders, to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment. Understanding the factors that contribute to the development of BPD can help in early identification and intervention. Note that bipolar disorder, BPD and borderline personality have frequent overlap. In situations of severe stress, transient psychotic symptoms may occur and therefore it is called limbic or borderline personality . 

Changes in mood and intense emotions

Imagine an emotional roller coaster with rapid swings between extreme highs and lows. This is a daily reality for people with Borderline Personality Disorder, who often experience intense emotions and mood swings triggered by stress or interpersonal conflicts.

This emotional instability can cause chaos in their daily lives, making it difficult to maintain stable relationships and jobs. Moreover, the inability to regulate these intense emotions can lead to self-destructive behaviours, even suicidal tendencies in severe cases.

The mood swings that characterise BPD differ from those of other mental conditions. In Borderline Personality Disorder, mood swings are usually rapid, leading to intense feelings of sadness, anger or anxiety, and are often linked to the person's perception of themselves and their place in the world.

These moods can change within hours, often in response to perceived rejection or abandonment. However, with the right treatment, such as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), people with BPD can learn to manage these intense emotions and live more balanced lives.

Unstable relationships and fear of abandonment

Borderline Personality Disorder

Turbulent relationships characterized by a pervasive intense fear of abandonment are often part of the experience of living with BPD. This fear, combined with an unstable self-image and intense emotions, can make it difficult for people with BPD to maintain stable relationships.

Particularly typical is the reaction of people with Borderline Personality Disorder to real or imagined abandonment. They may find themselves in a cycle where they alienate those they care about because of their fear of abandonment, thus inadvertently causing the very abandonment they fear.

The instability of these relationships can take a significant toll on a person's mental health, leading to feelings of low self-esteem, depression, and even risky behaviors. As a result, people with BPD often find themselves in intense and unstable relationships that exacerbate their symptoms and make it difficult for them to form and maintain meaningful relationships with others.

However, with the right support and treatment, people with BPD can learn to form healthier relationships.

Impulsivity and risk-taking behaviours 

Borderline Personality Disorder

Impulsivity and risk-taking behaviours are common features of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). These behaviours, driven by the desire for immediate gratification and disregard for possible consequences, can lead to dangerous situations such as reckless driving, unprotected sex, substance abuse or binge eating. These risk factors, while providing temporary relief from emotional distress, can lead to serious consequences, including legal issues, health problems and damaged relationships.

Understanding these behaviours as symptoms of a serious mental health condition rather than as a moral failure or lack of willpower is essential. Suicidal behaviour, for example, is often an attempt to cope with intense emotional pain and feelings of emptiness. Anger outbursts and suicide attempts are common and are a serious problem. With appropriate treatment, people with BPD can learn healthier coping strategies to manage their impulsivity and reduce risk-taking behaviors. 

The diagnosis of borderline personality disorder

A diagnosis of BPD is an important step towards managing the disorder. It involves a thorough assessment conducted by a mental health professional, taking into account the individual's symptoms, personal experiences and family medical history. This diagnosis is crucial, as it paves the way for a targeted treatment plan that can significantly improve the person's quality of life.

From assessment to diagnosis

In the diagnosis of BPD, mental health providers play an indispensable role. These professionals, including licensed psychiatrists and counseling professionals, are equipped with the skills and knowledge to conduct comprehensive assessments that facilitate accurate diagnosis. An accurate diagnosis is the foundation upon which effective treatment strategies are built.

The diagnostic process involves a thorough assessment of the individual's emotional reactions, behavioural patterns and personal experiences. The mental health provider may use various assessment test methods, such as the Standardized Assessment of Personality - Abbreviated Scale (SAPAS), to screen for BPD. Once a diagnosis is confirmed, the mental health provider can work with the individual to develop an individualized treatment plan to manage symptoms and improve overall functioning.

Family medical history and personal experiences

For a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder, accurate reporting of symptoms, personal experiences and family medical history is essential. Family medical history, in particular, plays an important role in diagnosis, as research has shown a genetic predisposition to BPD. Individuals with a first-degree relative with BPD are more likely to develop the disorder, suggesting a role for genetic factors in its development.

However, it is not only genetics that plays a role. Personal experiences, including traumatic life events, feelings of fear and lack of support, can also influence the development of BPD. Being open and honest about these experiences can help mental health professionals gain a comprehensive understanding of the individual's condition, facilitating an accurate diagnosis and an effective treatment plan.

Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder ( BPD)

Despite the significant impact of BPD on a person's life, it is important to remember that it can be treated. Effective treatments for BPD include Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), medication to manage specific symptoms, and family therapy.

These treatment strategies aim to help individuals manage their symptoms, improve their quality of life, and promote healthier relationships.

Dialectical Behavioural Therapy

Borderline Personality Disorder

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a fundamental part of the approach to treating borderline personality disorder (BPD). This therapy, developed by Marsha M. Linehan in the late 1970s, has been scientifically validated for effective management of BPD symptoms. It involves a combination of group skills training, individual psychotherapy and telephone coaching, which address various aspects of BPD.

DBT uses techniques such as:

  • mindfulness meditation
  • interpersonal effectiveness
  • stress tolerance
  • emotional regulation

to help people with BPD manage their intense emotions, navigate their relationships and cope with stressful situations. With regular and consistent treatment, individuals can learn to live healthier and more balanced lives, showing that even with BPD, there is always a beacon of hope.

Medication strategies

Although therapy is a critical component of BPD treatment, medication can also play an important role in managing symptoms. These may include antidepressants, antipsychotics and mood stabilizers, which can help alleviate symptoms such as impulsivity, aggression, anxiety and psychotic symptoms.

It is vital to note that while these medications can be beneficial, they can also have potential side effects such as sedation, metabolic syndrome and weight fluctuations. Therefore, medication use should always be done under the supervision of a healthcare provider and should be combined with therapy for best results.

The goal is to effectively manage severe symptoms while minimizing potential side effects. 

The role of family therapy

Borderline Personality Disorder affects not only the individual, but also their loved ones. This is where family therapy comes in. It plays a key role in BPD treatment, educating family members about the disorder and equipping them with strategies to support their loved one, improving overall family functioning.

Family therapy focuses on:

  • Building trust
  • Strengthening communication
  • Establishing boundaries
  • Fostering a supportive environment

It helps to create a stable environment that reduces anxiety and provides the person with limbic personality disorder with a sense of predictability and consistency, which can greatly aid their recovery process.

Thus, family therapy serves as a vital support system beyond the individual, promoting better mental health outcomes for all involved.

The impact of BPD on everyday life

A person's daily life, including career, education and social interactions, can be significantly affected by BPD. The emotional instability, fear of abandonment and impulsivity that characterise BPD can pose significant challenges in these areas, often leading to difficulties in achieving academic and career goals and maintaining healthy relationships.

Career and education

A person's educational and professional development can be significantly impeded by symptoms of BPD. Emotional instability and difficulty concentrating can disrupt learning and daily functioning at school, leading to increased absenteeism and the need for additional time and support to acquire work or study skills. This can then affect career progression and job stability, making it difficult for people with borderline personality disorder to achieve their professional and academic goals.

However, it is important to remember that these challenges are not insurmountable. With the right support and accommodations, individuals with BPD can excel academically and professionally. Schools and workplaces can play a key role in this by providing a supportive environment that understands and adapts to the needs of people with BPD.

Social interaction and self-perception

For people with BPD, navigating social interactions can be particularly difficult. They often experience difficulties controlling their impulses, regulating their emotions, and communicating effectively, which can strain their relationships and lead to social isolation. In addition, the unstable self-image and sense of emptiness that characterises BPD can further exacerbate these social challenges.

On the positive side, with the right support and treatment, individuals with BPD can learn to navigate social interactions more effectively and form meaningful relationships. Therapies such as DBT can provide individuals with the tools to improve their interpersonal skills, regulate their emotions, and build a more stable self-image, thereby improving their social interactions and relationships.

personality disorder early childhood personality disorder in children    

Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder

While living with BPD can be difficult, the right coping strategies can help individuals and their loved ones manage the condition more effectively. These strategies include developing emotional regulation skills, building and maintaining healthy relationships, and creating a supportive environment.

These strategies can not only help manage the symptoms of BPD but also improve overall well-being and quality of life.

Developing emotional regulation skills

Borderline Personality Disorder

Developing emotional regulation skills is a critical coping strategy for people with BPD. Mastering these skills can help individuals manage their intense emotions, reduce self-destructive behaviors, and improve their overall well-being.

There are several techniques that people with BPD can use to regulate their emotions, such as deep breathing, acknowledging and accepting their feelings, and practicing self-care activities such as exercise. With practice and consistency, these techniques can become second nature, providing individuals with effective tools to navigate their emotional landscape.

Building and maintaining healthy relationships

Another critical coping strategy for people with BPD is to promote healthy relationships. Developing healthy interpersonal skills can help reduce feelings of abandonment, improve communication, and foster stronger bonds with others.

Building and maintaining healthy relationships requires patience, understanding and continued effort. It involves understanding one's feelings, communicating effectively and setting healthy boundaries. Particularly in the case of BPD, it may also include seeking professional help to navigate the complexities of interpersonal relationships. Remember, every step taken toward building healthier relationships is a step toward a healthier, more fulfilling life.

Creating a supportive environment

For people with limbic personality disorder, creating a supportive environment is a critical coping strategy. A supportive environment provides a safe space for individuals to express their feelings, explore their thoughts, and cope with their symptoms without fear of judgment or rejection. Creating such an environment involves empathy, validation and understanding from loved ones, as well as participation in support groups and seeking professional help.

In addition, providing stable and predictable routines can help reduce stress and provide a sense of stability for the individual. In a supportive environment, individuals with borderline personality disorder can find the courage to face their challenges and the strength to work toward recovery.


BPD is a complex mental health condition that can significantly impact an individual's life. However, with an understanding of its symptoms, accurate diagnosis, effective treatments and appropriate coping strategies, individuals with BPD and their loved ones can navigate this journey with hope. Remember, the road to recovery may be difficult, but it is certainly achievable and every step forward counts.

Frequently asked questions

What are the 9 main symptoms of BPD?

The 9 main symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder include characteristics such as intense fear of abandonment, unstable relationships and impulsive behavior. Seeking professional help is important to properly address and manage these symptoms.

How does a BPD episode feel?

A BPD episode may look like experiencing rapid and intense mood swings, leading to sudden feelings of anger, sadness or anxiety. It can be a challenging and overwhelming experience.

How can you calm borderline personality disorder?

To calm borderline personality disorder, it is important to identify and engage in activities that help manage intense emotions, such as distracting yourself, seeking comfort, and using grounding techniques to stay focused and relaxed. Using apps such as In Hand and Breathe2Relax can also be helpful.

What are the 4 types of borderline personality disorder?

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is usually classified into four types: demoralized, impulsive, irritable and self-destructive BPD. It is possible to experience more than one type of BPD at the same time or at different points in one's life, and some individuals may not fit neatly into these classifications.

How is borderline personality disorder diagnosed?

Borderline personality disorder is diagnosed by a mental health professional through a thorough evaluation of the individual's symptoms, personal experiences, and family medical history. It is not diagnosed through a single examination.

Original content from the Upbility writing team. Reproduction of this article, in whole or in part, without attribution to the publisher is prohibited.

You can also read:


American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th edition). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.

Chapman, A. L., & Gratz, K. L. (2007). The Borderline Personality Disorder Survival Guide: Everything you need to know about living with borderline personality disorder. New Harbinger Publications.

Kreisman, J. J., & Straus, H. (2010). hate you-don't leave me: Understanding borderline personality. perigee Books.

Linehan, M. M. (1993). cognitive-behavioral treatment of borderline personality disorder. Guilford Press.

National Institute of Mental Health. (2020). individuals with borderline personality disorder.

Paris, J. (2005). The treatment of borderline personality disorder: Page 2 of 3: The treatment of borderline personality disorder: Implications for psychotherapy research. Psychiatric Services, 56(10), 1290-1294.

Swenson, C. R. (2000). Dialectical behavior therapy: Principles and applications for the general psychiatrist. Psychiatric Services, 51(9), 1171-1178.

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