The symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) usually appear by early adulthood. To be diagnosed with BPD the symptoms need to occur as a pattern across a variety of life situations, rather than occurring solely in one area of life, such as only at the office, or only with a particular person.
General Description of BPD
A hallmark of Borderline Personality Disorder is a series of unstable interpersonal relationships characterized by drama, conflict and many ups and downs. Your self-image changes depending on how others are treating you at the moment.
Your emotions fluctuate dramatically and you may feel like you are at their mercy and unable to function well when upset.
Symptoms for a Diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder
According the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Version IV (DSM-IV), the professional manual used to make mental health diagnoses, if the above paragraph is true, and five or more of the following feelings and behaviors are present, you may be diagnosed with BPD.
- You become extremely upset over being abandoned or even thinking that you might be abandoned, and make frantic efforts to prevent this from happening.
- You have very intense personal relationships, where emotions seem to change between love and hate, but are rarely in the middle.
- You do not have a strong sense of self or an unclear self-image.
- You are highly impulsive at least two ways that can damage the self. This can include things like spending, sex, drug or alcohol abuse, reckless driving or binge eating.
- You may have threatened or attempted suicide repeatedly, or are often mutilating yourself in some way.
- You are subject to highly changing moods which last for a few hours up to a few days. Irritability, anxiety, depression, or general unease are common feelings.
- You experience chronic feelings of emptiness.
- You have difficulty controlling anger.
- When under stress, you feel paranoid or you dissociate. Dissociating can mean feeling disconnected from the world or from your body, thoughts, feelings, or behavior. For example, you do something totally unlike what you usually would do or want to do, and feel as if your body is simply acting without your consent. Or you become swamped with emotion for no apparent reason. Amnesia is also a form of dissociation.
Prevalence and Gender Differences in BPD
According to the DSM-IV, approximately 75% of people diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder are female. Approximately 2% of the population has it.
Treatment is Available for Borderline Personality Disorder
It was once considered very difficult to help people with Borderline Personality Disorder.
However, recent treatment developments including Marsha Linehan’s Dialectical Behavior Therapy, are very productive. Many of the symptoms of BPD sometimes remit with age, but why suffer and wait? Effective treatment is available now.
This article is for general information only. It is not intended to be a substitute for personal medical or mental health treatment. People with troubling physical or emotional symptoms should seek the advice of a health care or mental health professional.
©Lisa C. DeLuca, all rights reserved. It is a violation of copyright law to reproduce this work on the web or for business use without permission from the author. This article was originally published on the web in 2008. Please contact the author with your reprint request.