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Borderline Personality Disorder

History of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

BPD was first described in the 1930s. At that time, it was believed to be on the "borderline" between neurosis and psychosis, which is where the name originated. Over the decades, our understanding of BPD has evolved significantly. In the 1980s, BPD was officially recognized as a distinct mental disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), a key resource used by mental health professionals.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a complex mental health condition that affects how individuals perceive themselves and others. It leads to difficulties in managing emotions and maintaining stable relationships. This guide will explore what BPD is, its symptoms, treatment options, genetic factors, history, and prognosis. We will also provide useful resources for further reading and support.

What is BPD?

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a mood disorder that impacts a person's long term mood, behavior, and self-image. People with BPD often struggle with their emotions and relationships. They might have intense feelings of anger, feel sad, or have anxiety that can change quickly. The symptoms can negatively impact one's quality of life.

mother and daughter hugging

Borderline Personality Disorder Symptoms

Understanding the symptoms of BPD is crucial for recognizing the disorder and seeking appropriate help. Key BPD symptoms include:

  • Intense mood swings: Feeling very happy one moment and very sad or angry the next. Negative thoughts are common.

  • Fear of abandonment: Worrying that friends or family will leave them.

  • Unstable relationships: Having relationships that are intense but can quickly become troubled.

  • Impulsive behavior: Making hasty decisions, such as spending too much money or binge eating.

  • Low self-esteem: Feeling worthless or like they don't know who they are.

  • Self-harm: Engaging in behaviors like cutting or other forms of self-injury or suicide attempts.

  • Intense anger: Having trouble controlling anger and sometimes acting out.


Borderline Personality Disorder Treatment Options

While BPD can be challenging to manage, there are effective treatments for BPD available that can help individuals lead more stable and fulfilling lives.

  1. Psychiatry: Visiting a medical professional can help to review your signs and symptoms, discuss short term goals, go over medication side effects, review risk factors, and help you rule out other mental health disorders and medical conditions.

  2. Therapy: Therapy is a cornerstone of BPD treatment. Working with a therapist can provide individuals with the tools they need to manage their symptoms and develop improved problem solving skills. Common therapeutic approaches include different types of psychotherapy:

  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): This type of therapy focuses on teaching skills to cope with stress, regulate emotions, and improve relationships.

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT helps individuals change negative thinking patterns and behaviors.

  • Schema-Focused Therapy: This approach combines elements of CBT with other forms of therapy to address deeply held patterns and beliefs.


  1. Medications: While there are no medications specifically approved for BPD, medications can be used to treat symptoms such as depression, anxiety, or mood swings. Commonly prescribed medications include antidepressants, antipsychotics, and mood stabilizers.

  2. Marriage Counseling: For those in relationships, marriage counseling can help improve communication and resolve conflicts.

  3. Neuropsychological Testing: This can help understand how BPD affects brain function and guide treatment plans.

Woman looking happy about overcoming borderline personality disorder

Genetics and Facts About BPD

  • Genetics: Research suggests that BPD runs in families. If a close family member has BPD, there is a higher likelihood that another family member might develop it. However, genetics is just one factor; environmental influences also play a significant role.

  • Prevalence: Approximately 1.6% of adults in the United States have BPD, though some estimates suggest the figure could be as high as 5.9% due to underreporting and misdiagnosis.

  • Gender: BPD is diagnosed more frequently in women than men. However, this may be due to the fact that women are more likely to seek treatment.



With proper treatment, many people with BPD see significant improvements. Early diagnosis and intervention can lead to better outcomes. Over time, many individuals learn to manage their emotions more effectively and build more stable relationships. However, without treatment, BPD symptoms can persist and negatively impact various aspects of life.

BPD Resources

  1. If you or someone you know might have BPD, these resources can help:

  2. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): Provides comprehensive information on BPD, including symptoms, treatment options, and current research. NIMH BPD Information

  3. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): Offers educational resources, support groups, and advocacy for individuals with mental health conditions. NAMI BPD Information

  4. Mental Health America (MHA): Provides support and resources for those living with mental health conditions. Mental Health America BPD Resources

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