Borderline Personality Disorder Symptoms, Signs, and Effects

Borderline personality disorder, or BPD, is a mental health condition that can affect a person’s ability to regulate their emotions, respond to stress, and relate to others. Someone who has borderline personality disorder can also struggle to maintain a stable sense of self and may suffer from painful feelings of low self-worth.

At Highland Ridge Hospital, we offer compassionate, whole-person care for adults who are experiencing symptoms of borderline personality disorder. Our services include crisis stabilization and step-down care delivered by a kind and qualified staff.

What Is BPD?

What Is BPD?

Borderline personality disorder is characterized by an ongoing pattern of instability that can affect someone’s relationships, emotions and mood, and decision-making abilities. It can also influence a person’s self-image or sense of identity, which can make it difficult for them to function in work, school, and social settings.

Borderline personality disorder may also have a severe impact on a person’s safety and well-being. People who have borderline personality disorder often engage in self-harming behavior and struggle with suicidal thoughts and actions. Additionally, a person’s struggles with impulsivity as a result of BPD may lead them to engage in unsafe behaviors, which may increase the risk for additional physical and emotional harm.

When a person is suffering from borderline personality disorder symptoms, they can experience debilitating emotions like anger, emptiness, fear, and a sense of rejection. Many people who struggle with borderline personality disorder symptoms also have difficulty maintaining important relationships even though they may value these relationships highly. They are often sensitive to the threat of abandonment or the presence of changes in their environment and may react with strong emotions, including anger, fear, and panic, when things go wrong or important people let them down.

The onset of BPD symptoms usually occurs in early adulthood, and symptoms of borderline personality disorder are often particularly challenging during this time. The potential causes of borderline personality disorder can include biological and social factors and differences in brain function.

If you think that you may have symptoms of BPD, it’s important to seek professional help. Mental health professionals typically diagnose borderline personality disorder by asking detailed questions about the symptoms someone has been experiencing and their family’s medical and mental health history. Understanding what BPD is and receiving expert care that can help you manage its symptoms can have a positive impact on your quality of life.

Signs of Borderline Personality Disorder

Signs of Borderline Personality Disorder

If you think that you or someone you love may have BPD, it can be helpful to learn the specific signs and symptoms of the disorder. Borderline personality disorder signs refer to behaviors and other visible indications that someone may be struggling with BPD.

Common signs of BPD include:

  • Extreme efforts to avoid abandonment: This may include impulsive acts as well as interpersonal missteps like rushing into a new relationship or making inappropriate demands on another person’s time.
  • A pattern of unstable relationships: A person who is struggling with BPD symptoms may alternate between idealizing someone, such as a caregiver or partner, and feeling deeply rejected by or dissatisfied with them.
  • Impulsive behavior: Impulsivity among people who struggle with borderline personality disorder may include substance abuse, risky sex, excessive spending, reckless driving, and binge eating.
  • Intense changes in mood: When someone is experiencing the mood instability that is associated with borderline personality disorder, they may struggle with feelings like irritability, unease, sadness, and anxiety.
  • Problems with anger: When someone is experiencing this borderline personality disorder symptom, they may display inappropriate, intense anger or struggle to control their temper.
  • Selfsabotaging behavior: A person who has borderline personality disorder may abruptly end something just as they are nearing success or approaching an important milestone. Examples might include dropping out of school right before graduation or deliberately sabotaging a healthy relationship.

Statistics for Borderline Personality Disorder

Statistics for Borderline Personality Disorder

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) provides the following statistics on borderline personality disorder:

  • About 1.4% of the U.S. population struggles with borderline personality disorder.
  • Almost 75% of people who receive a borderline personality disorder diagnosis are women. However, recent research suggests that men might suffer from BPD at rates similar to women.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) shares that the prevalence of borderline personality disorder is about 20% among people who are receiving inpatient psychiatric care and about 6% among people in primary care settings.

Additionally, according to the DSM-5, genetic factors are among the possible causes of borderline personality disorder, with BPD being five times more common among first-degree relatives of those who have the condition compared with the general population.

The causes of and risk factors for borderline personality disorder may also include:

  • Early parental separation or loss
  • Physical or sexual abuse
  • Childhood neglect
  • Exposure to hostile conflict or unstable relationships

Differences in brain structure and function may also be a cause of borderline personality disorder. Research suggests that people who have BPD show differences in brain regions responsible for emotion regulation and impulse control, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder

Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline personality disorder symptoms can be immensely overwhelming and stressful. Many people who struggle with BPD symptoms report intense feelings of emotional sensitivity that are difficult to manage and control. This experience can be exhausting and scary, as well as isolating.

Everyone experiences BPD symptoms in a unique way. However, in general, the symptoms of borderline personality disorder can include:

  • Overwhelming fear of abandonment
  • Poor tolerance for being alone
  • Intense feelings of being bad or evil
  • Unstable sense of self, which may involve frequent shifts in goals, values, and career plans
  • Frequently changing your feelings toward other people
  • Feeling like you don’t exist
  • Frequent feelings of emptiness or boredom
  • Feelings of shame or guilt when you react inappropriately or show anger
  • Brief periods of paranoia or extreme disconnection from the self
  • Engaging in self-injury
  • Suicidal thoughts and actions

It’s important to note that borderline personality disorder symptoms often occur in response to interpersonal stress. By getting professional care for BPD, you can learn valuable ways to cope with these types of challenges and improve your well-being.

Effects of Borderline Personality Disorder

Effects of Borderline Personality Disorder

If you’re struggling with BPD symptoms, accessing professional support is crucial. Without supportive care, a person who has borderline personality disorder can suffer from many harmful outcomes, including:

  • Poor educational achievement
  • Problems at work or school
  • Legal problems
  • Physical health conditions
  • Relationship difficulties, including separation and divorce
  • Physical injuries due to impulsive or self-harming behavior
  • Onset or worsening of other mental health concerns
  • Higher risk for suicide

Untreated Borderline Personality Disorder

Untreated Borderline Personality Disorder

When borderline personality disorder is left untreated, the results can be devastating. In particular, the negative effects of BPD can compound over a person’s lifetime, limiting their access to important jobs, relationships, and milestones that would otherwise help them thrive. Additionally, living with untreated borderline personality disorder can leave someone feeling disconnected, unhappy, and unable to build a healthy sense of self-esteem.

If you think that you may have BPD, don’t delay in seeking professional support. There are many different forms of care for borderline personality disorder that can provide a path to better health, functioning, and quality of life.

Borderline Personality Disorder & Co-Occurring Disorders

Borderline Personality Disorder & Co-Occurring Disorders

Many people who struggle with borderline personality disorder also suffer from co-occurring behavioral health conditions. Having a co-occurring concern in addition to BPD can add to the unique therapeutic needs someone may have.

At Highland Ridge Hospital, we’re pleased to provide quality care for people who have a variety of mental health disorders and addictions. When someone seeks professional care with us, we provide a thorough assessment to determine the right level of services for them. After someone begins receiving care at our hospital, we make sure to provide comprehensive and integrated services, which we deliver through a diverse team of professionals.

Frequently Asked Questions About BPD

Frequently Asked Questions About BPD

As you continue to build knowledge about borderline personality disorder symptoms and ask, “What is BPD?” the following questions and answers may be helpful.

Is borderline personality disorder curable?

Although borderline personality disorder is not curable, it is very treatable. If you have borderline personality disorder symptoms, it’s usually best to seek an assessment so that you can get personalized care at the level that’s right for you. With tailored care and healthy self-help strategies, it’s possible to find long-term healing from borderline personality disorder.

What should I do if BPD symptoms return after I receive care?

While it might be discouraging to learn that borderline personality disorder is not curable, it’s important not to lose hope if you continue to struggle with BPD symptoms. Learning how to navigate the ups and downs of the healing process is often a key part of discovering how to achieve a healthier life.

If you find that BPD symptoms return, it may be important to evaluate your care plan and reach out for extra support. Professional help is available, and it can be a valuable opportunity to reassess your needs and coping strategies and make adjustments to your care to promote your ongoing success.

How can I manage symptoms of BPD in daily life?

By receiving professional care, you can learn to manage the impacts of BPD on your daily life, improve your emotion regulation skills, and enjoy healthier relationships. You can also learn to adopt daily habits, such as stress management, regular exercise, and mindfulness practices, which may help ease the symptoms of BPD.

How can I help a loved one who is struggling with borderline personality disorder?

One of the most powerful ways to support someone who is suffering from borderline personality disorder is to educate yourself about the condition. By gaining a deeper understanding of the challenges of living with BPD, you can better empathize with your loved one and offer the support and encouragement they may need. It is also helpful to become aware of the care options available, including support for yourself and your loved one who has BPD. Additionally, you may want to learn more about the BPD favorite-person (FP) relationship. For someone who has BPD, an FP is someone with whom they feel a deep sense of attachment or connection. Understanding the nature of the BPD FP relationship can help both the loved one who may be in the role of FP and the person who has borderline personality disorder as they work to maintain healthy and stable boundaries.

What To Do if You Think That You May Have BPD

What To Do if You Think That You May Have BPD

Although borderline personality disorder can have an immense impact on someone’s relationships and emotional well-being, know that there is hope and a path to healing. Support is available, both for those who have BPD and those who love someone who has BPD.

This content was written on behalf of and reviewed by the clinical staff at Highland Ridge Hospital.

I thought our family's life could never be normal, but Highland Ridge showed us how to manage this diagnosis.

– Blair D.