What is Borderline personality disorder?

Borderline personality disorder facts.

Borderline personality disorder facts.

People with borderline personality disorder (BPD) have an extreme fear of abandonment and experience difficulties in regulating emotion. This often results in unstable and impulsive behaviour, severe mood swings, turbulent relationships, and low self-esteem. This disruptive behaviour often negatively affects the relationships of someone with borderline personality disorder.

Most people with borderline personality disorder try to avoid real or imagined situations of (possible) abandonment, because these situations cause them a lot of emotional and mental pain. The avoidance of these situations can cause destructive behaviour, such as picking a fight, suicide attempts, and self harm (cutting).
Unfortunatelt, the frequent mood swings, impulsiveness, and anger that are a result of fear of possible abandonment often push people (partners, friends, family) away. This, in turn, can intensify the fear of abandonment and thus also the mood swings, impulsiveness, and anger. In other words: BPD people may find themselves in a vicious circle when it comes to social interactions, and may experience the same patterns in various friendships.

Fortunately, there is effective treatment, such as Schema therapy and DBT, for people with borderline personality disorder which significantly improves their lives and the lives of people around them. BPD is often accompanied by other mental disorders, such as depression, PTSD, and substance abuse. Due to the fact that BPD symptoms show overlap with symptoms of other mental disorders, therapists sometimes fail to diagnose BPD. It is important for the therapist to determine whether the coexisting mental disorder is the cause or result of BPD. This may affect the treatment plan.

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At Barends Psychology Practice, we offer (online) therapy for borderline personality disorder. Contact us to schedule a first, free of charge, online session. (Depending on your health insurance, treatment may be reimbursed).

What are the borderline personality disorder symptoms and traits?

Borderline personality disorder is one of the most common personality disorders and also the most researched one [1]. BPD affects the way you feel about yourself, behave in certain situations, and how you relate to others. Its symptoms probably started developing during childhood as a result of traumatic experiences, such as child abuse or neglect. Here are the symptoms:

  • An intense fear of abandonment.
  • Unstable intense relationships: one moment believing someone is wonderful and amazing and then suddenly believing this person is evil, cruel, good-for-nothing etc.
  • Frequent changes in self-image and self-identity, including changing goals and values, and seeing yourself as bad or worthless.
  • Periods (lasting from minutes to hours) of paranoia caused by stress.
  • Impulsive and risky behaviour, such as unsafe sex, binge eating, spending a lot of money in a short period of time, sabotaging success by suddenly quitting a job or ending a good relationship.
  • Extreme mood swings lasting from hours up to days.
  • Threatening with suicide or self-injury (often) when facing a possible rejection.
  • Ongoing feeling of emptiness.
  • Intense and inappropriate anger, being very bitter and sarcastic, frequently losing temper or having physical fights.

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When to see a professional?

When your recognize some of the above mentions symptoms, please contact a professional. Especially when you have the feeling they are negatively affecting your life.
In case you recognize these symptoms in someone else, it may be a good idea to talk to that person. Do not try to force someone into therapy, because therapy isn’t effective if someone isn’t motivated.

At Barends Psychology Practice, we offer (online) therapy for borderline personality disorder. Contact us to schedule a first, free of charge, online session. (Depending on your health insurance, treatment may be reimbursed).

Literature used for this article

    • [1] Grant, B. F., et al., 2009. Prevalence, correlates, disability, and comorbidity of DSM-IV borderline personality disorder: results from the wave 2 national epidemiologic survey on alcohol and related conditions. J Clin Psychiatry, 69, 533-545.

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