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What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

man crouching in fear in corner of room with shadows around him

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Sometimes it can be difficult to understand, and really effectively manage your emotions. People who experience Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) often feel emotions quite intensely and for prolonged periods of time. It is difficult for them to return to a stable baseline after an emotionally triggering event. 


So what, you may think. Plenty of people become overwhelmed by their emotions. While this is true, the extent to which people who suffer from BPD get overwhelmed is vastly greater than occasionally crying over spilled milk in public. These are extremely intense, exhausting emotions that drain those suffering from BPD and make it extremely difficult to recover afterwards. 


Signs of BPD


There are nine different symptoms that are tell-tale indicators of BPD. These include:


  • Dissociative feelings, like “out of body” feelings or feeling disconnected from your thoughts or sense of identity, as well as stress-related paranoid thoughts. Sometimes these can lead to psychotic episodes.
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness or boredom
  • Unstable, distorted self-image, which affects opinions, values, moods, relationships and goals
  • Periods of intense depression, irritability or anxiety. These can last from a few hours to a few days.
  • Self-harming behavior, including suicidal threats or attempts
  • Unstable personal relationships that alternate between idealization (I love this person so much!) and devaluation (I hate this person). Sometimes, this is referred to as “splitting”.
  • Frantic efforts to avoid abandonment by friends and family, whether it is a real circumstance or not.
  • Impulsive behaviors that have dangerous consequences, such as excessive spending, substance abuse, unsafe sex or reckless driving.
  • Inappropriate, uncontrollable and intense anger, often followed by shame and guilt.


So, What Do I Do?


Borderline personality disorder, like many other mental health conditions, doesn’t have a specific diagnostic pattern or test, a specific treatment, or a singular answer. Because it is a personality disorder it affects people who to all appearances may look completely normal. This also stands in the way of appropriate treatment: it’s hard to know to ask for help when you think you’re just a little off, or just not seeing things the way you’re supposed to at that time, or you convince yourself that everyone else feels and thinks the same way you do.


Consider what would happen if a small child were bouncing a tennis ball near you, not even paying attention to you, just playing with their ball, and they suddenly lost control of it and it came up and hit you in the face. Not hard enough to leave a mark, but it got your attention. What would the appropriate response be? It would probably be to chuckle at the kid and hand back the ball, maybe say a kindly joking word or two about being more careful with it. The kid made a mistake. It wasn’t a big deal. Life goes on.


For someone with BPD, though, even an incident this small can trigger a breakdown. They may go off on the child, screaming and lecturing them and terrifying the poor kid. They may keep the ball, thinking “I’ll show you” when really what they are doing is stealing a child’s toy and creating a lot of confusion and chaos for the child. They may have a psychotic break and just go ballistic, possibly even harming the child. Untreated BPD is one heck of a weapon to be walking around with.


The causes of BPD are not completely understood. Most believe it is a combination of factors, including:


  • Genetics: No specific gene or genetic profile has been shown to directly cause BPD, but research does suggest that it runs in families.
  • Environmental factors: Traumatic life events, especially early in life, are known indicators of an increased risk of developing BPD.
  • Brain function: It seems that the system for regulating emotions is simply different for people who suffer from BPD, which does suggest that there is also a neurological component to this diagnosis. What has been observed is that the systems in the brain that communicate between emotions and judgment/decision-making aren’t doing so optimally.


While there is no definitive medical test, getting yourself to a psychotherapist who can determine what exactly is going on or at least begin to build an idea of what you’re experiencing is a great first step. Treatment options may include psychotherapy, medications, and support from groups, peers and family members. The goal of treatment for BPD is for the sufferer to eventually regain control enough that they can self-direct their own treatment plan, as they grow more stable and learn what works and what doesn’t.

Blair Wellness Group

Dr. Blair is a nationally renowned psychotherapist who has worked extensively with patients exhibiting signs and symptoms of BPD. Her innovative, proactive and multi-therapeutic approach ensures that the concerns that you have will be addressed at all levels and with support and care. Her concierge-style services guarantee that she is the best psychotherapist in Beverly Hills to assist you with your concerns. 

We strongly urge you to contact us at the Blair Wellness Group today to begin pursuit of your treatment for BPD, or if you think you may know someone suffering from BPD, to give us a call with your questions. We can help inform and guide you through what may be a tumultuous time in your life or the life of your loved one. At Blair Wellness Group we seek only to offer the greatest possible psychotherapy, support, and assistance. 

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