Personality disorders that are mental illnesses – 3: Borderline personality disorder

When someone is diagnosed with personality disorder, it can be difficult for his or her family and friends to accept the reality. Just like any other mental disorder, even personality disorders carries a social stigma represented by discriminating behavior and prejudicial attitudes. As a result, such patients are subjected to disapproval and anger, instead of support, understanding and compassion. But, personality disorder is a real problem that needs treatment and care to help people improve their quality of life.

When it comes to personality disorders, one of the most common disorders that comes to one’s mind is borderline personality disorder (BPD), which, if left undiagnosed and untreated, can damage lives and relationships. BPD is a serious mental illness that does not allow a person to lead full, productive lives. With symptoms such as unstable mood swings, impulsivity and instability, BPD is a condition that affects nearly 1.6 percent of adult population in the United States, as per the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

It is a fact that life is difficult for a person with personality disorders since they open more doors to other mental illnesses and substance abuse. Consequently, personality disorders are officially listed as mental disorders by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Their diagnosing guidelines are stated in the DSM and in the mental and behavioral disorders section of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD), published by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Identifying causes of BPD

People with BPD often display extreme moods and behavior, and thus, such people have to struggle with their poor image and stormy personal relationships. Many of them also make repeated attempts to avoid real or imagined situations of abandonment. “The combined result of living with BPD can manifest into destructive behavior, such as self-harm (cutting) or suicide attempts,” said NAMI.

Notably, symptoms of BPD can be triggered by ordinary events, such as separation from loved ones when going for vacations or business trips, resulting in chronic boredom and emptiness. However, the actual cause of the mental health condition is still unclear, however, studies have shown that it could be a result of a combination of factors.

Here are a few probable causes of BPD:

Family history: Although no specific genes have been directly associated with BPD, however, studies have found BPD to have strong hereditary links. In fact, the condition is about five times more common in people who have a first-degree relative with the disorder, as per NAMI.

Impairments in brain function: Studies have shown that the functioning of the brain is different in people with BPD. People with this problem have excess grey matter in the brain, which gets overstimulated when they view scary faces. Interestingly, similar changes in the brain circuitry have been witnessed in patients with anxiety and mood disorders.

Environmental triggers: Often, the risk of developing BPD increases in people who had experienced a traumatic life experience during childhood, such as physical or sexual abuse or neglect and separation from parents.

Road to recovery

BPD cannot be diagnosed with one single test. In fact, the entire process of diagnosis includes comprehensive psychiatric interview, medical evaluations and interview with friends and family. Further, BPD is diagnosed when a person exhibits at least 5 of the 9 symptoms of the disorder. Although typical treatment of the condition includes therapy and medication, further course of treatment depends on the severity of the condition.

If you feel your loved one is suffering from BPD, or any other mental disorder, you can seek help from the 24/7 Mental Health Helpline to know more about mental disorders. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number (855) 653-8178 or chat online with our representatives, who can guide you to the best mental health centers and mental health facilities in your vicinity.

Read the other articles of the series “Personality disorders that are mental illnesses:”

  1. Narcissism
  2. Histrionic personality disorder