What is Borderline Personality Disorder

by Sharon Hopkins

A borderline personality disorder is quite a controversial and touchy topic but nevertheless has been termed as a serious mental illness. It was originally believed that BPD was an illness, that was a borderline version or atypical of some other mental disorder, but more and more research has experts believing otherwise. Many mental health professionals think that the name ‘borderline personality disorder’ is quite misleading but are still to decide on a more accurate and fitting name for this condition. BPD was deemed a diagnosable illness for the first time in 1980.

So what is a borderline personality disorder? NIMH describes it as a mental illness that is marked by unstable behavior, moods and relationships. People who suffer from this disorder have trouble regulating thoughts and emotions, show extreme impulsiveness and reckless behavior, as well as have problems developing and maintaining relationships. The risk of them causing self-harm is extremely high when they feel victimized or things don’t go the way they think it should have. They display borderline self destructive behaviors like eating disorders, substance abuse, gambling, irrational shopping frenzies etc. In more serious cases, BPD may also be accompanied by depression, anxiety disorders, suicidal thoughts, and sometimes even completed suicides.

The causes of borderline personality disorder usually are due to either one traumatic experience or a prolonged one that would have happened in early childhood or adolescence, and could still be happening. Studies also link borderline personality disorder to autoimmune disorders. It has been proven that people with low thyroid antibody titers have been known to show fluctuating moods and psychotic symptoms. Post traumatic stress is another cause for BPD.

The symptoms of borderline personality disorder are:

  • Rapid fluctuating mood swings that switch between panic, depression, rage and anxiety.
  • Unstable or distorted self image which can lead to erratic changes in opinions, feelings, goals, values, opinions and plans for the future.
  • Turbulent and intense relationships with friends, family, loved ones. It changes from extreme love and idolization of people to extreme dislike and hatred.
  • Reckless and dangerous behaviors such as unsafe sex, dangerous driving, drug or alcohol abuse, spending sprees and binge eating.
  • Feelings of chronic boredom or emptiness.
  • Suicidal thoughts and self-destructive behavior like cutting oneself.
  • Inability to control aggressiveness or anger.
  • Stress related paranoid thoughts or major dissociative symptoms, like observing oneself from out of the body, feeling cut off from self, and/or losing touch with reality.
BPD is a disorder that cannot go away immediately; it takes therapy and self-realization to understand the gravity of the problem, and to have the will to work towards it.  There are a few ways that make coping with BPD easier, these are:

  • Get Help: If you think you have BPD or know a friend, relative or a loved one that is displaying symptoms of BPD, consult a medical health expert about diagnosing and treating the disorder.
  • Reduce Stress: There are many ways to reduce stress, one of them is exercising. Exercising has many uses, it is used to keep you healthy, in good form, and is also linked to happiness as it burns cortisol, a hormone that is released when one is angry, anxious or fearful, and also stimulates the brain to release endorphins, which give you a euphoric feeling. Meditation and yoga are other ways of relieving your stress.
  • Schedule: Maintain a regular schedule for meals as well as sleep time.
  • Talk: Bottling your feelings will only cause you harm. Confide in a trusted family member or friend, and talk about your feelings and frustrations.
  • Goals: Set realistic goals. Make sure each goal is small and achievable. Weigh out your pros and cons, before deciding on your goals.


  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12897379

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