Personality disorders are often misunderstood and stigmatized in culture, movies, and television. The definition of a personality disorder is a way of thinking, feeling, and behaving that doesn’t follow cultural norms and causes distress over time in your life. It is estimated that 1.4% of Americans have borderline personality disorder. Understanding what this disorder looks like will help you discover the best treatment for yourself or a loved one.
What Is Borderline Personality Disorder?
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental health condition that makes it extremely hard for you to regulate your emotions, leading to mood swings, impulsivity, and relational stress. Unfortunately, if you have BPD, you are at a higher risk of harming yourself or acting out suicidal behavior. This is why treatment is so important. Proper treatment can help stabilize your moods and provide relief from symptoms.
BPD Vs. Bipolar Disorder
Another mental health condition is bipolar disorder. Many people get borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder confused with one another. In fact, one study in 2017 showed that 40% of people with BPD were misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder type 2.
These two disorders do have a lot in common, but there are also marked differences. Both conditions cause severe mood changes, but the moods will look different with each disorder. Bipolar produces mania and depression, while BPD will produce intense feelings of emotional pain, loneliness, and desperation.
Also, mood changes with BPD are usually very brief and last for a few hours, whereas bipolar mood swings can last days or even weeks.
What Are the Borderline Personality Disorder Symptoms?
All people experiencing borderline personality disorder do not have the same symptoms. Some of the common signs of this disorder include:
- An intense fear of abandonment in relationships, which leads them to jump into and leave relationships very quickly
- A pattern of intense and unstable relationships with people in their lives
- A distorted and often changing perception of themselves
- Impulsive behaviors such as spending sprees, binge eating, unprotected sex, and substance abuse
- Self-harming behavior, such as cutting
- Suicidal thoughts, behaviors, or threats
- Intense mood swings with episodes lasting from a few hours to a few days
- Recurring and intense feelings of emptiness
- Inappropriate, intense feelings of anger without the ability to regulate
- Feelings of dissociation, like you are disconnected from reality
- Feelings for others can change quickly from extreme love to extreme dislike
- Viewing things in extremes, such as all good or all bad
To diagnose you with borderline personality disorder, a mental health professional will perform an assessment and discuss the results with you. Most people are not diagnosed with BPD until after the age of 18 and will be exhibiting symptoms for more than a year.
Whether you’re seeking diagnosis or care for an existing diagnosis, Alter Behavioral Health is the place for you or your loved one.
Who Is at Risk of Having Borderline Personality Disorder?
There is no specific cause of borderline personality disorder, but there are a few factors that can raise your risk of having the condition.
If someone in your family has been diagnosed with BPD, then you have a greater risk of having it as well.
Studies show that your brain structure may be different if you have BPD, specifically the areas of the brain that deal with emotional regulation and impulse control.
If you have experienced trauma or unstable relationships in your life, then you may have a higher chance of being diagnosed with BPD.
Just because one of these risk factors is present does not mean that you will definitely have a borderline personality disorder. It is best to see a mental health professional who can assess you and determine if this is an appropriate diagnosis.
What Does Borderline Personality Disorder Treatment Look Like?
Borderline personality disorder does have treatment options that have shown to be effective. Research shows that if you don’t get proper treatment for BPD, you are at a higher risk of developing other medical or mental conditions.
Residential programs provide the most thorough treatment for borderline personality disorder. A residential program provides 24-hour care and allows you to stay overnight at the treatment center. The advantages of residential treatment include:
- Constant access to medical and mental health professionals
- A comfortable environment free of typical everyday triggers
- Regular interventions to help you through each day
- The opportunity to build a support system around you
Residential programs offer a variety of interventions, including individual therapy, medication, and family and group therapy.
One of the treatments available for borderline personality disorder is therapy. A licensed professional will utilize different therapeutic approaches to help you understand and cope with your condition.
One therapy approach that is commonly used is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). The goal of CBT is to help you understand the thinking patterns that lead to certain feelings and behaviors. Once you identify these thoughts, you can begin to recognize false beliefs and replace them with more realistic thinking patterns.
Your therapist may also teach you skills to help with emotion regulation. These may include mindfulness exercises, meditation, journaling, or artistic expressions. Gathering an array of coping skills is useful in navigating the mood swings that exist within borderline personality disorder.
There are no proven medications yet that help specifically with borderline personality disorder, however, some options exist that can treat various symptoms related to BPD. Talk to your mental health provider about options that may be right for you. Some medicines can alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety, but it is not considered a cure for BPD.
Medication should not be considered the only treatment for borderline personality disorder, but rather one tool among many. There can be unwanted side effects from some medications, so it’s important to talk to your doctor and follow medical recommendations.
Many treatment programs for borderline personality disorder will include some type of family therapy or support groups for the patient’s loved ones. Caring for someone with BPD can be difficult and therapeutic support is necessary to help you navigate the mood swings and instability in relationships that come with this disorder.
How Do I Find Borderline Personality Disorder Treatment Near Me?
Alter Behavioral Health Group is a treatment center in Orange County specializing in residential behavioral health treatment programs and mental health care. At Alter, the goal is to apply a modern understanding of mental health that emphasizes treating the condition as well as the person.
If you or someone you love has borderline personality disorder, call Alter Behavioral Health to speak to a specialist about treatment options.