Alternative Names: BPD, Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder, Emotional Intensity Disorder
Borderline Personality Disorder is a serious mental illness involving highly variable moods, erratic behavior, unstable relationships, changing self-image, and repeating suicidal or self-harming tendencies.
It is estimated that roughly 1-6% of adults in the U.S. suffer from BPD in any given year. Onset is usually during adolescence or early adulthood, with 75% of cases occurring in women. BPD constitutes roughly 20% of all psychiatric hospitalizations, and is present in some 17% of the prison population.
The cause of Borderline Personality Disorder is unknown, but it is thought to be inherited (genetic) and dependent on the cultural environment that a person grows up in. There appears to be a connection to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and a history of child trauma.
There are many signs of BPD, including:
80% of sufferers exhibit suicidal behavior and about 5-10% commit suicide.
There are no laboratory, blood or genetic tests that can be used to diagnose borderline personality disorder. Other possible causes of the symptoms, such as thyroid disorder or substance abuse, should be ruled out first.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, it must be demonstrated that a person continuously exhibits at least 5 of 9 associated criteria in order to be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.
Complication arises in cases where other mental illness(es) may be present at the same time. 85% of those with BPD also satisfy the diagnostic criteria for at least one other mental illness. Women are more likely to have depression, anxiety or eating disorders; men are more likely to have substance abuse or antisocial personality disorder.
Some patients recover without treatment.
Long-term psychotherapy (talk therapy) is currently the treatment of choice. However, one study showed that Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) reduced suicide attempts in women much more than other types of psychotherapy.
There are currently no medications that cure BPD, but some may help to reduce anxiety, depression and aggression.
One study suggests that omega-3 fatty acids may help to reduce depression and aggression.
Patients with severe symptoms often require around-the-clock care.
With treatment, the majority of those with BPD can find relief from the worst symptoms and even achieve remission. BPD usually decreases in severity with age. Most patients stop experiencing the most serious symptoms by the time they are aged 40-50.
Those with borderline personality disorder are much more likely to be victims of violence, rape, and other crimes.
Those with borderline personality disorder suffer more from nightmares than normal. This if often due to past childhood trauma, which is also a key factor in the development of this disorder.
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