November 27, 2015
font size

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

Borderline personality disorder facts

  • Borderline personality disorder is a personality disorder characterized by consistently problematic ways of thinking, feeling, and interacting, impulsivity, negative self-image and fear of abandonment, leading to difficulties with interpersonal relationships.
  • BPD affects men as often as women in general, women more than men in treatment populations.
  • Antisocial personality disorder in adults, substance-abuse problems in men, eating disorders in women, and anxious and odd personality disorders in adolescents tend to co-occur with BPD.
  • There has been some controversy about whether or not BPD is its own disorder or a variation of bipolar disorder, but in many countries, there is more agreement on the existence of BPD.
  • Like most other mental disorders, it is understood to be the result of a combination of biological vulnerabilities, ways of thinking, and social stressors (biopsychosocial model).
  • BPD sufferers are more likely to have a learning problem or certain temperaments as children, or come from families of origin where divorce, neglect, sexual abuse, substance abuse, or death occurred.
  • In order to be diagnosed with BPD, the sufferer must experience at least five of the following symptoms: unstable self-image, relationships or emotions, severe impulsivity, repeated suicidal behaviors or threats, chronic feelings of emptiness, inappropriate anger, trouble managing anger, or transient paranoia or dissociation.
  • As with other mental disorders, there is no specific definitive test, like a blood test, to diagnose BPD. Therefore, practitioners conduct a mental-health interview that looks for the presence of the symptoms previously described and usually explore the person's history for any medical problem or other emotional problem that may show symptoms of the disorder.
  • Psychotherapy approaches that have been helpful in treating BPD include dialectical behavior therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and psychoanalytic psychotherapy.
  • The use of psychiatric medications like antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and antipsychotics may be useful in addressing some of the symptoms of BPD but do not manage the illness in its entirety.
  • Partial hospitalization can help treat BPD by providing frequent supervision and assessment in a safe environment, while allowing the sufferer to go home each evening.
  • The presence of BPD tends to worsen the symptoms of other mental illnesses and increase the risk for self-mutilation, as well as for attempting or completing suicide.
  • People with BPD are at somewhat higher risk for engaging in violent behavior. That risk is further increased when the individual with BPD also is suffering from antisocial personality disorder, has a previous history of violent behavior, frequently uses sedative medications, or experiences several changes in their psychiatric medications.
  • While they symptoms of BPD tends to diminish over years for many people, how well or poorly people with BPD progress over time seems to be influenced by the severity of the symptoms, the individual's current personal relationships, whether or not the sufferer has a history of being abused as a child, as well as whether or not the individual receives appropriate treatment.
  • Steady employment or school status once symptoms of BPD subside (remit) tends to protect BPD sufferers from experiencing a future relapse.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/17/2014


Emotional Wellness

Get tips on therapy and treatment.

Use Pill Finder Find it Now See Interactions

Pill Identifier on RxList

  • quick, easy,
    pill identification

Find a Local Pharmacy

  • including 24 hour, pharmacies

Interaction Checker

  • Check potential drug interactions
Search the Medical Dictionary for Health Definitions & Medical Abbreviations