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Technically, BPD is a mood disorder like bipolar or major depressive disorders. Borderline personality disorder, however, is marked by different struggles and symptoms. Someone with this disorder deals with moods that vary in pattern, leading to problems with behavior regulation, as well as self-image.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, someone with BPD can move between moods of anxiety, anger, and depression. These moods may be interspaced with periods of “normalcy,” and each mood can last hours or even days.
The symptoms of BPD can make normal life difficult if they aren’t managed properly. The Office of Women’s Health notes that BPD can cause problems at home and work, damaging professional, social, and familial relationships.
As with many other mood disorders, the exact cause of borderline personality disorder is not known. However, research has indicated that certain factors can lead to an increased risk of being diagnosed with BPD.
The Office on Women’s Health estimates that two in 100 adults have BPD and notes that women are more likely to struggle with this disorder than men. The National Alliance on Mental Illness indicates that around three-quarters of the people diagnosed with BPD are female.
Unfortunately, not everyone who has BPD seeks or receives the proper treatment. The NIMH reveals that only around 42% of people with BPD reported that they received mental health treatment within the previous year.
However, treatment is important and can help individuals with BPD to manage their symptoms and live a healthier life. The National Alliance on Education for BPD notes that outcomes can be positive for people who actively engage in treatment, and many individuals report reduced impulsive behavior symptoms as they age into their 40s.
Borderline personality disorder can only be diagnosed by a trained health care professional, and the symptoms can present differently in each person. Some of the symptoms of BPD are also symptoms of other mental health disorders. Physical health issues can also cause some of these mental health symptoms, so it’s important to talk to a professional about your symptoms before you assume you have any type of diagnosis.
Symptoms of BPD can vary from mild to extremely severe. Some common symptoms include:
MentalHealth.gov notes that medication often plays less of a role in the treatment of BPD than it does for some other mood disorders. However, that doesn’t mean medication is completely ineffective. If someone is experiencing certain symptoms, such as anxiety or depression, that can be treated with medication, medical professionals may prescribe medication, at least during the early part of someone’s treatment path.
However, therapy is typically the primary focus of treatment for borderline personality disorder. While the type of therapy used may depend on your specific symptoms and the severity of your BPD, as well as the provider’s best practices and preferences, dialectical behavioral therapy is a common approach in treating this disorder.
Dialectical behavioral therapy typically involves both individual therapy sessions, as well as group therapy and skills training. The therapy works to help someone develop better coping mechanisms while also learning to accept themselves and the world — as it is — around them. During therapy, individuals with BPD practice learning to value themselves so they are less likely to fear abandonment. They also work on developing skills for managing their own emotions and reactions.
As with any type of mental health therapy, the goals and path through treatment depend heavily on the unique issues faced by the person diagnosed. Treatment for BPD can take place in inpatient or outpatient settings, and which path is right for you depends on your current environment, your support system, and the severity of your symptoms.
This guide is provided for educational purposes only and is not meant to provide medical advice or recommendations about treatment. If you or someone you love is struggling with any of the symptoms described above or you think you may have BPD, contact a medical professional or local behavioral health clinic today for more information and help with navigating treatment options.