Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), also known as “Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder” (EUPD), is a mental illness that severely impacts a person’s ability to effectively manage their emotions. The disorder is characterised by a long-term pattern of increased impulsivity, a disturbed sense of self, and negatively-impacted unstable interpersonal relationships. The symptoms of BPD appear in late teenage or early adulthood and may include a combination of the following:
- Fear of abandonment
- Unstable, intense relationships
- Unstable self-image or sense of self
- Rapid mood changes
- Impulsive and dangerous behaviour
- Repeated self-harm or suicidal behaviour
- Persistent feelings of emptiness
- Anger management issues
- Temporary paranoid thoughts
It is estimated that up to 6% of people suffer from BPD, and women are diagnosed three times as often as men. These numbers may not be accurate since there are some forms of BPD (quiet BPD) that may go undiagnosed. That said, almost half of the people diagnosed with BPD will show signs of improvement over a ten-year period.
The Culprits Behind Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline Personality Disorder is likely to be caused by a combination of various factors, such as:
Problem with brain chemicals: Neurotransmitters are messenger chemicals used to transmit signals between brain cells. It is thought that many individuals with BPD have an imbalance in the neurotransmitters in their brain, particularly serotonin. Studies have associated low levels of serotonin in the brain with symptoms of depression, aggression, and difficulty controlling adverse tendencies.
Genetic Influence: There has been no evidence of a gene for BPD. However, a study showed that if one identical twin had BPD, there was a 2-in-3 chance that the other identical twin would also have BPD.
Problem with brain development: Researchers have used the MRI scans of individuals with BPD to further understand the condition. The scans showed that three parts of the brain, the amygdala, the hippocampus,and the orbitofrontal cortex, were either smaller in size or displayed unusual levels of activity. These parts regulate emotions, behaviour, self-control, and planning and decision making respectively. The development of these parts is influenced during early upbringing. Being responsible for mood regulation, the malfunctioning of these parts causes people with BPD to have poor interpersonal relationships.
Environmental factors: The following environmental factors seem to commonly play a pivotal role in the development of this disorder:
- Being a victim of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse
- Being exposed to long-term fear or distress as a child
- Being neglected by one or both parents
- Growing up with another family member who had a serious mental health condition, such as bipolar disorder or someone with substance/alcohol abuse issues
Breaking Free from the Shackles of Borderline Personality Disorder
Historically, BPD has been challenging to treat, but newer, evidence-based therapies have given suffering individuals the hope of improved functioning and a better quality of life. Treatment may include psychotherapy, medications, or both, depending on the severity of the symptoms. People with BPD often have comorbidities like mood disorders, eating disorders, substance use disorders, ADHD, and bipolar disorder, among others. In such cases, these coexisting conditions will have to be treated in order to treat BPD effectively. The types of therapy that can help treat BPD include:
Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT): Specifically developed for individuals with BPD, this therapy focuses on helping them accept the reality of life and their behaviours. It teaches skills to control intense emotions, reduce self-destructive behaviours, and improve relationships.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT): A structured, goal-oriented therapy, CBT helps individuals take a closer look at their thoughts and emotions and understand how these thoughts affect their actions. CBT helps unlearn negative thoughts and behaviours as well as promote healthier thinking patterns and habits.
Group Therapy: This is a type of psychotherapy in which a group of people meet to describe and discuss their problems together under the supervision of a therapist or psychologist. Group therapy may help people with BPD interact with others more positively and express themselves effectively.
Taking Action to Be Psychologically Aware
Borderline Personality Disorder can go undiagnosed and lead to the deterioration of mental wellbeing in individuals suffering from it. This condition is such that it harms not only the individual suffering from it but also the people around them. Early intervention is better than noticing it after the symptoms dominate one’s life. It is highly necessary for the individual to receive therapy specifically designed for BPD. One’s mental health is of the utmost importance and needs to be actively prioritised. Book your first session with Heart It Out! If you think you identify with any of these symptoms in yourself or your loved ones, it is recommended that you seek support from a psychologist or psychiatrist at the earliest possible time.
“Mental health problems don’t define who you are. They are something you experience. You walk in the rain and you feel the rain but you are not the rain.” - Matt Haig
Written by Neha LorraineSeek Support Now