Although we still have a long way to go, our society has become more familiar and compassionate with many mental health issues. While many people may be familiar with anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder, few people have an understanding of borderline personality disorder (BPD). They often don’t even know what it is, much less what the signs are and how it can be treated. To gain a better understanding of this mental health disorder, let’s break it down. Maybe you or a loved one is still waiting for an accurate diagnosis to explain troublesome behaviors.
What Is Borderline Personality Disorder?
When you go to the doctor for a physical problem, it can be fairly easy to diagnose. This is not the case with many mental illnesses and borderline personality disorder is no exception. Diagnosis is based on certain patterns of behavior and mood. Someone suffering from borderline personality disorder often pushes those emotions to extremes that can include self-destructive and dangerous behaviors. Because of this, they often have difficulty forming relationships with other people. Because of its vague symptoms, BPD is a very difficult mental health issue to diagnose and treat.
Borderline personality disorder can occur in either gender but is predominantly found in women. The reason this illness is referred to as “borderline” is because it’s so similar to so many other mental illnesses which further complicates diagnosis.
What Are the Symptoms?
Borderline Personality Disorder is mostly characterized by impulsive actions and mood swings that may resemble bipolar disorder with depression and anxiety that can last for a few hours to a few days. People with BPD have an extreme fear of abandonment and rejection, whether real or imagined. This often leads to feelings of isolation or emptiness. They may simply feel bored all the time and have difficulty feeling empathy for others or they might feel extreme anger. Their self-image may be distorted and all of these qualities can lead to difficulty in forming relationships. It’s not that they don’t want to be close to other people and form relationships, but their emotional instability makes it difficult. They often suffer from a case of “can’t live with them, can’t live without them.”
Unfortunately, one of the most common symptoms involves suicidal ideation and suicidal intent. People with borderline personality disorder often engage in self-harm in the form of cutting or even burning themselves. Psycom estimates that as many as 80% of people with borderline personality disorder show some kind of suicidal ideation through their behaviors and anywhere from four to nine percent complete a suicide attempt.
What Happens to the Brain?
Another debate in the treatment and diagnosis of borderline personality disorder includes changes in the brain. Do these changes trigger the disease or does the disease trigger these changes? Researchers still aren’t sure. Environmental factors may also be part of the development of borderline personality disorder, particularly if there is a traumatic event during childhood or a family member has a borderline personality disorder.
BPD should be diagnosed by a mental health professional who can discern between it and similar diagnoses so the right treatment can begin.
How Can You Treat BPD?
Some symptoms can be medicated and treated such as depression or anxiety, but this kind of mental illness usually requires a lot of counseling and therapy. Talking through many of the complex problems of a borderline personality disorder usually takes a long-term commitment, which can be difficult for someone suffering from the disorder. Therapists have to overcome a lack of trust or stability once they’ve made the diagnosis. The diagnosis is often hard to sell because there often co-occurring disorders that may overlap in symptoms.
Psychotherapy forms the main treatment for borderline personality disorder and it can include widely used practices such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or a form of therapy specifically developed for individuals with a borderline personality disorder known as Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT.) This therapy uses mindfulness and an awareness of your emotional state to reduce behavior such as cutting or self-harm while improving relationships. They can help find the center of emotions and stop swinging to the extremes of ecstasy and agony.
CBT helps patients suffering from borderline personality disorder to reflect on their emotions and responses to develop healthier coping mechanisms, thoughts, and emotional responses. It’s used in a wide variety of mental illnesses and substance abuse behaviors to enact change. Regardless of the method used, therapy can take a long time and requires patience and support from friends and family members.
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) can be one of the most difficult mental health conditions to diagnose and live with. Despite progressive strides in diagnosing and treating mental illness, BPD remains very tricky to identify because of similarities to other mental illnesses and their symptoms. Treatment is usually a long-term commitment to psychotherapy rather than medication. This is especially challenging for those who suffer from BPD because of their intense fear of abandonment and distrust of other people, but there is hope. Here at Everlast Recovery Center, we don’t just treat physical disorders or substance abuse problems but mental health issues as well. We can treat co-occurring illnesses whether combined with substance abuse or another mental health diagnosis like a borderline personality disorder. Our beautiful Riverside, California campus offers counseling as well as more holistic methods of healing, including art and equine therapy. Call us today and learn how we can help at 866-DETOX-25, (866-338-6925).