Understanding the Signs of Borderline Personality Disorder
Few, if any, mental health disorders leave a person feeling rejuvenated and refreshed. In fact, more often than not, mental health problems do just the opposite. Exhausted by the constant up and downs of mood swings, persistent low feelings, and general psychological anguish, people diagnosed with mental health disorders frequently can feel subjected to the confines of their own mind. Borderline personality disorder (BPD), in particular, can be one such illness that zaps a person of energy, self-esteem, and hope for a better tomorrow.
Experiencing a persistent or episodic mental health illness doesn’t have to rule your life. With proper treatment and maintenance, disorders like borderline personality disorder can be managed in such a way that allows you to live the fulfilling, happy life you deserve.
A Look at Borderline Personality Disorder: Symptoms
Similar to some symptoms of bipolar disorder or anxiety, persons with borderline personality disorder often have intense mood swings frequently mixed with paranoia. A signifier of this illness is an extreme instability in relationships, self-image, and behavior. Based on information from the National Institute of Mental Health, some sufferers of BPD often have psychotic episodes as well, and three-quarters of the BPD population are thought to practice self-injury. The illness is thought to affect an estimated 2 percent of the population (1.6 percent), with females more likely to be diagnosed (about 75 percent).
The DMS-IV outlines nine symptoms that identify borderline personality disorder. In order to be diagnosed by a mental health care profession, one needs to be at least 18 years of age and exhibit five or more of the following symptoms:
- Extreme reactions to real or perceived abandonment. The feeling of being abandoned is perhaps one of the most indicative markers of borderline personality disorder. Whether real or imagined, a person suffering from BPD may show intense, often inappropriate, reactions when he/she feels abandoned.
- Torrid relationships. A person with borderline personality disorder often has intense emotions about friends and others close to him/her, in particular lovers or caretakers, which may correlate to fear of abandonment. Feelings may constitute extreme love (idealization) or hate (devaluation) and are subject to change without notice or predicating event. People with BPD may also seem overly reliant or dependent upon friends, lovers, or family members.
- Distorted self-image. Often feeling like he/she is “bad” or “evil,” a person with BPD may show signs of low self-worth or value. This disturbance in perceived identity is frequently negative or pessimistic and can shift suddenly. For example, someone with BPD may have extreme feelings about how they are unloved or worthless triggered by an event in which a friend is five minutes late for a lunch date.
- Impulsive or dangerous behavior. Impulsive or risky behavior often includes sex, substance abuse, binges, or charging a lot of money on credit cards. These behaviors are often considered to be dangerously impulsive and can put oneself or others at risk.
- Recurring suicidal thoughts. It’s estimated that around 80 percent of those with BPD have suicidal tendencies or ideations. The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that approximately 10 percent actually do commit suicide.
- Chronic feelings of emptiness or boredom. Those suffering from BPD may often feel disillusioned or unfulfilled with their places in life.
- Inappropriate anger. Referring to the earlier example about a lunch date, a person with BPD may yell at a friend for being late. It’s possible that, going to back to unstable relationships, he/she may immediately switch feelings about that person and illustrate devaluation as a result.
- Intense and highly unstable moods. Those with BPD often display unpredictable and erratic behavior as the result of varying moods.
- Stress-related paranoia or dissociative symptoms. This symptom is marked by a loss of reality or perception.
Treatment for BPD
Do you recognize any of these symptoms in yourself or someone you love? It may be time to seek help. Only a professional can diagnose borderline personality disorder, so it’s crucial to get help if you think this illness could be affecting you. There absolutely is assistance out there for you. Call us and we can connect you to the care you need.