What is borderline personality disorder?
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a developmental disorder that is characterised by intense emotional dysregulation, impulsivity and unstable interpersonal relationships.
Unfortunately, BPD can often be misdiagnosed. Some people with BPD are given the diagnosis of bipolar disorder. However, BPD mood changes tend to be much more rapid and can shift significantly within the same day.
What are the symptoms of BPD?
To be diagnosed with BPD, the person must experience at least five of the following symptoms:
- Fear of abandonment
- Unstable or changing relationships
- Unstable self-image; struggles with identity or sense of self
- Impulsive self-destructive behaviours (excessive spending, unsafe sex, substance misuse, binge eating and others)
- Suicidal behaviour or self injury
- Mood instability with varied mood swings
- Feelings of emptiness
- Difficulties with anger, including frequent loss of temper or physical fights
- Stress related paranoia or dissociation
If you are worried that you are suffering from BPD, it is important that you have a specialist assessment to verify or exclude the diagnosis. There is often co-morbidity between BPD and other disorders such as depression, anxiety, substance misuse or eating disorders.
Treatment for BPD
BPD can be a serious condition. Many people with BPD are at risk of attempting suicide at some point in their life – which is why it’s so important to get the right support. With the right therapy approaches and medical treatment, the outlook for BPD is positive over time.
There are several specialist psychological therapies that can be effective for treating BPD. Following your initial assessment, we will assess which approach we believe will be most effective for you.
Medication is not recommended for BPD by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines. However, there is some evidence that it can be helpful in managing the symptoms of depression and anxiety that people with BPD often experience.
All our psychologists have specialist experience in the treatment of BPD and treatment will often also include medical reviews with our Consultant Psychiatrist, especially if your symptoms are severe.
Frequently asked questions
It’s important to seek help for BPD if you find that your relationships are suffering big ups and downs, you’re having difficulties with anger, self-harm or you are engaging with other kinds of self-destructive, impulsive behaviours.
Contrary to popular belief, you can absolutely recover from BPD. After receiving evidence-based therapy, people very often no longer meet the diagnostic criteria for BPD. Even though your difficulties may feel pervasive, things can change and improve with the right therapeutic approach.