What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Borderline personality disorder is an illness marked by an ongoing pattern of varying moods, self-image, and behavior. These symptoms often result in impulsive actions and problems in relationships with other people. A person with borderline personality disorder may experience episodes of anger, depression, and anxiety that may last from a few hours to days. Recognizable symptoms typically show up during adolescence (teenage years) or early adulthood, but early symptoms of the illness can occur during childhood.

What are signs and symptoms?

People with borderline personality disorder may experience mood swings and may display uncertainty about how they see themselves and their role in the world. As a result, their interests and Values can change quickly. People with borderline personality disorder also tend to view things in extremes, such as all good or all bad. Their opinions of other people can also change quickly. An individual who is seen as a friend one day may be considered an enemy or traitor the next. These shifting feelings can lead to intense and unstable relationships.

Other signs or symptoms may include:

  • Efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment, such as rapidly initiating intimate (physical or emotional) relationships or cutting off communication with someone in anticipation of being abandoned
  • A pattern of intense and unstable relationships with family, friends, and loved ones, often swinging from extreme closeness and love (idealization) to extreme dislike or anger (devaluation)
  • Distorted and unstable self-image or sense of self
  • Impulsive and often dangerous behaviors, such as spending sprees, unsafe sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, and binge eating. Please note: If these behaviors occur primarily during times of elevated mood or energy, they may be indicative of a mood disorder, rather than borderline personality disorder.
  • Self-harming behavior, such as cutting
  • Recurring thoughts of suicidal behaviors or threats
  • Intense and highly changeable moods, with each episode lasting from a few hours to a few days
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • Inappropriate, intense anger or problems controlling anger
  • Difficulty trusting, which is sometimes accompanied by irrational fear of other people’s intentions
  • Feelings of dissociation, such as feeling cut off from oneself, observing oneself from outside one’s body, or feelings of unreality

Not everyone with borderline personality disorder experiences every symptom. Some individuals experience only a few symptoms, while others have many. Symptoms can be triggered by seemingly ordinary events; for example, people with borderline personality disorder may become angry and distressed over minor separations—due to business trips or changes in plans—from people to whom they feel close. The severity and frequency of symptoms and how long they last will vary depending on the individual and their particular illness.

Portions of this Blog provided by the following resources: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/borderline-personality-disorder/borderlinepersonalitydis-508-qf-17-4928_156499.pdf

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