Borderline personality disorders (BPD) are conditions that can cause a range of distressing symptoms and patterns of abnormal behaviour. BPD is perhaps best understood as a disorder of mood and how a person interacts with others.
Symptoms could include:
- overwhelming feelings of distress, anxiety, worthlessness or anger
- difficulty managing such feelings without self-harming – for example, by abusing drugs and alcohol or taking overdoses
- difficulty maintaining stable and close relationships
- sometimes having periods of loss of contact with reality
- in some cases, threats of harm to others
BPD typically emerges in adolescence and persist into adulthood. They may be associated with genetic and family factors, and experiences of distress or fear during childhood, such as neglect or abuse, are common. Personality disorders range from mild to severe.
BPD can be a serious condition, and many people with the condition self-harm and attempt suicide. It is estimated that 60-70% of people with BPD will attempt suicide at some point in their life. However, for many with BPD, the outlook is reasonably good over time, and psychological or medical treatment may help.
How does Borderline Personality Disorder develop?
As with most mental disorders, BPD appears to be due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Traumatic events that occur during childhood are associated with developing BPD. An estimated 8 out of 10 people with BPD experience parental neglect or physical, sexual or emotional abuse during their childhood.
Treatment may involve a range of individual and group psychological therapies (psychotherapy) carried out by trained professionals working with a community mental health team. Effective treatment may last more than a year.
Recent studies have suggested that the majority of those with BPD do well over time, with most experiencing sustained relief from symptoms, and around half being completely free of symptoms and able to function well.
Read more about Borderline Personality Disorder.