It is possible that you may know of someone struggling with a borderline personality disorder. The hallmark of this problem is that the person is not able to regulate his emotions.
This causes a number of symptoms such as impulsivity, mood swings, and other behavioral problems. A borderline personality disorder is one of the commonest mental problems experienced by the adults.
As per the National Alliance of Mental Health, 1.6 percent of the American adults such from this syndrome. However, the number may be a lot higher i.e. up to 5.9 percent. 75 percent of the people diagnosed with borderline personality disorder are females.
How serious can borderline personality disorder be?
The disease is different from someone just experiencing slight ups and downs in their normal moods. Such type of behavior is normal to exhibit. Borderline personality disorder, on the other hand, can be quite serious.
People suffering from this syndrome have a high tendency to harm themselves in different ways. These may occur via substances abuse, cutting, or getting a serious condition such as bulimia nervosa or anorexia.
What is Borderline Personality Disorder?
A borderline personality disorder is a mental illness including patterns of varying mood, behavior, and self-image.
Some of the traits that are commonly seen in people with borderline personality disorder include poor self-image, insecurity, anger, instability, and unhealthy relationships.
Such people also find it extremely difficult to cope with a situation just after experiencing a hard time. The syndrome is said to be a major public problem because of its association with psychosocial impairment and the necessity of mental services of high levels.
Signs of Borderline Personality Disorder
The psychiatrists and psychologists usually use a certain framework in order to diagnose a borderline personality disorder. The diagnosis involves looking for certain signs, symptoms, and traits.
The essential features of this syndrome include impairments of the personality side by side with the existence of pathological personality traits.
A person is said to be suffering from borderline personality disorder if he:
- Makes an effort to avoid abandonment by family or friends
- Has unstable personal relationships that hang in balance between love and hate
- Has an unstable image of himself with poor self-esteem that seems to affect his values, moods, relationships, and life goals
- Exhibits impulsive behaviors such as unsafe sex, spending too much money, driving recklessly or indulging in substance abuse
- Self-harms himself such as cutting his body or communicates suicidal thoughts followed by similar threats and attempts
- Suffers from periods of sheer depression, anxiety, or irritability. These periods may stick for a few days in some cases
- Experiences chronic feelings of emptiness or utter boredom
- Has inappropriate anger which he is unable to manage. After every episode of anger, it is common for these people to feel guilt or shame
- Suffers from cognitive disturbances such as dissociative feelings or feeling disconnected from your own thoughts. Sometimes, there may be psychotic episodes or paranoia.
Causes and Risk Factors
The main causes of borderline personality disorder are just like any other mental illness. The causative factors of this syndrome include environmental, lifestyle, and genetic aspects.
Women are more likely to suffer from a borderline personality disorder as compared to men. Experts believe that both men and women suffer equally from this syndrome. However, most of the men fail to get a correct diagnosis.
The following reasons are said to contribute to the development f borderline personality syndrome:
Family History and Genetics
Research has suggested that borderline personality disorder has strong hereditary ties. It is 5x more common in people whose first relative has been diagnosed with the same disorder.
The estimated hereditability of borderline personality disorder is about 40 percent.
Traumatic Life Events
Any traumatic life events, especially those which occurred at early life stages, can contribute to borderline personality disorder. The examples of these events include neglect, sexual abuse, the death of a closed one or the divorce of parents.
Impairment of Brain Function
Studies have shown that the emotional regulation system present in the brain seems to get affected by borderline personality disorder. Due to this reason, the patients are unable to make decisions, communicate or reach a judgment.
There is also evidence that the differences occurring between the activity and volume of the brain structures may be associated with the regulation of emotions in people with this syndrome.
So, does borderline personality syndrome have anything to do with an imbalance of neurotransmitters?
It is proposed that people with this disorder have no important links between this disease and their serotonin transporter gene, serotonin 1B gene or tryptophan hydroxylase 1 gene.
Is it true that you can suffer from a borderline personality disorder at any age? Probably yes but most of the time, the disease develops at early stages of life.
What are the Co-morbidities?
If you suffer from a borderline personality disorder, it is likely that you have other mental problems as well. This makes the treatment much more difficult as life seems to be out of control for such people.
People suffering from borderline personality disorder also exhibit the following symptoms:
- Eating disorders
- Substance abuse
- Bipolar disease
- Suicidal tendencies and threats
What is the Conventional Treatment?
Borderline personality disorder does not have any official test for diagnosis. Doctors usually carry out a personality test to diagnose this condition.
As discussed below, there are certain signs and symptoms that the mental health professionals look for in a patient suspected to suffer from a borderline personality disorder.
It also involves reviewing the medical history, family history, and interviews with all the close family members.
One of the most commonly asked questions is if borderline personality disorder can be cured. While there might not be a proper cure, the condition can surely be managed.
Treatment for borderline personality disorder usually aims at improving the symptoms and the quality of life in patients. However, there are chances of relapse or worsening of the symptoms during stress.
For a treatment to be effective, it has to address all the other mental health conditions co-existing in a particular patient such as substance abuse or depression.
The treatment for borderline personality disorder may involve the combination of any of the following processes:
- Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, can be used. The Dialectical Behavior Therapy has been developed especially for the individual suffering from borderline personality disorder. This therapy utilizes the concept of mindfulness and acceptance to reduce the destructive reaction patterns.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy is another form of treatment that has an aim of identifying and altering the core beliefs of a person that lead to inaccurate perceptions and consequent destructive behaviors
- Group support of family therapy is also indicated in people who suffer from borderline personality disorder along with other problems such as eating disorders or substance abuse
- In certain cases, medications might be used but because neurotransmitter imbalance has not been proven as the primary cause of borderline personality disorder, this is not the first line of treatment. However, if the patient is suffering from anxiety, depression, or psychotic episodes, these medications might be prescribed. Medicines can also be used for providing temporary relief from the harmful symptoms
- Outpatient treatments, emergency care, or hospitalization can also be used to stabilize a patient who is exhibiting suicidal thoughts or is suffering from extreme distress