Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder is characterized by an overall pattern of instability in interpersonal relationships and self-image, accompanied by very impulsive behaviour. This disorder usually begins by the time a young person reaches early adulthood and shows itself in a number of different situations (e.g., relationships, school, work). It is often found along with other disorders, including mood disorders, substance related disorders, eating disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and other personality disorders. This disorder is most often diagnosed in females (about 75%) and has been seen in many countries around the world. There is also a genetic component to borderline personality disorder, with the disorder being more common in first- degree biological relatives of those who have the disorder. With BPD, individuals make frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. They are very sensitive to environmental circumstances, experience intense fears of being abandoned, and may show inappropriate anger, even in normal situations (e.g., panic or fury when someone important to them is just a few minutes late or must cancel an appointment for legitimate reasons).

They may believe that this “abandonment” means they are “bad.” These abandonment fears are related to an intolerance of being alone and feeling a need to have other people with them. Efforts to avoid abandonment may include impulsive actions like self- mutilating (e.g., cutting oneself with a knife, burning oneself) or suicidal behaviours.

Physical and sexual abuse, neglect, hostile conflict, and early parental loss or separations are more common in the childhood histories of those with BPD. The disability resulting from the disorder and the risk of suicide are greatest in the young adult years, but gradually diminish with advancing age. During their 30’s and 40’s, the majority of individuals with this disorder become more stable in their relationships and in their work.

Borderline personality disorder is not a common problem in young people, and behaviours associated with it may often be due to other factors, such as an undiagnosed mood disorder (especially bipolar affective disorder) or substance abuse (see Mood Disorders in this handbook). If a health or mental health professional suggests a diagnosis of BPD, a second opinion is a good strategy prior to treatment.

  • Early intervention is key to managing the disorder and preventing further disability.
  • Get help from a qualified health practitioner, including a professional diagnosis. An accurate diagnosis will help to prevent any incorrect “labeling” of your child by others.
  • Obtain a second opinion if possible.
  • Find a support group for both you and your child, and exchange strategies.
  • Learn all you can about the disorder and educate your family and your child about the disorder.
  • Don’t compare your child to siblings or other children. Treat your child as a unique individual.
  • Re-evaluate and modify strategies as necessary. Work closely with your child’s teacher, doctor, and school team.

Terms and Conditions | Privacy | Contact