Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)
Overview of BPD
Whereby an individual shows patterns of instability in forming and maintaining relationships and have an unstable sense of self. Individuals with BPD may experience several emotions in a short space of time and often have chronic feelings of emptiness. These individuals may display extreme impulsivity, partaking in risky behaviours such as drug taking, binge eating or having unprotected sex, and experience bouts of intense anger, and when very stressed, may see or hear things that others don’t, dissociate or become paranoid. An intense fear of abandonment is usually prevalent in individuals with BPD, and they will often go to any extent to avoid it. This can range from threats and attempts of suicide to physically clinging on to an individual to avoid them leaving. Not all of these behaviours need to be present for diagnosis, and usually these experiences begin in early adulthood. Sometimes individuals with BPD can be misdiagnosed due to the high number of symptoms that overlap with other disorders, such as bipolar disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder, making an expert opinion a useful tool in receiving the best treatment fast.
Like all personality disorders, the cause of BPD is not certain. However, individuals who experienced trauma while growing up seem to be more likely to develop BPD. Examples of trauma can be sexual, physical or emotional abuse, neglect, death of a parent or a chaotic and unstable home. It is thought that genetic factors, such as having a close relative with the disorder, may make an individual susceptible to developing BPD, however this may be because of the environment of the household rather than a biological link.
Although individuals suffering from BPD can feel despairing and that things will never improve, treatment is possible. Dialectical behaviour therapy is considered the first-line treatment for BPD and was designed with BPD in mind. DBT can help individuals to control and manage intense emotions, improve relationships with others and reduce impulsive and self-harming behaviours. Medications may be prescribed to treat specific symptoms of BPD, such as depression.