Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), Signs, Symptoms, Risk Factors & Treatments

What is BPD? Borderline Personality Disorder is a mental illness marked by an ongoing pattern of varying moods, self-image, and behavior. These symptoms often result in impulsive actions and problems in relationships. People with Borderline Personality Disorder may experience intense episodes of anger, depression, and anxiety that can last from a few hours to days. […]

What is BPD?

Borderline Personality Disorder is a mental illness marked by an ongoing pattern of varying moods, self-image, and behavior. These symptoms often result in impulsive actions and problems in relationships. People with Borderline Personality Disorder may experience intense episodes of anger, depression, and anxiety that can last from a few hours to days.

It develops during adolescence or early adulthood. Shows up in a pattern of unstable relationships. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, adults reached 1.6 % in the United States have Borderline Personality Disorder. And require Borderline Personality Disorder treatment. [1]

A personality disorder is a pattern of feelings and behavior that seem appropriate and justified to the person experiencing them. Even though these feelings and behaviors cause many problems in that person’s life.

Signs and Symptoms

People with Borderline Personality Disorder may experience mood swings and display uncertainty about how they see themselves and their role in the world. As a result, their interests and values can change quickly.

Borderline Personality Disorder
People with Borderline Personality Disorder may experience intense episodes of anger, depression, and anxiety that can last from a few hours to days.

People with Borderline Personality Disorder also tend to view things in extremes, such as all good or all bad. Their opinions of other people can also change quickly. An individual who is seen as a friend one day may be considered an enemy or traitor the next. These shifting feelings can lead to intense and unstable relationships. [1]

Other signs or symptoms may include:

  • Efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment, such as rapidly initiating intimate (physical or emotional) relationships or cutting off communication with someone in anticipation of being abandoned.
  • A pattern of intense and unstable relationships with family, friends, and loved ones, often swinging from extreme closeness and love (idealization) to extreme dislike or anger (devaluation).
  • Distorted and unstable self-image or sense of self.
  • Impulsive and often dangerous behaviors, such as spending sprees, unsafe sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, and binge eating. Please note: If these behaviors occur primarily during a period of elevated mood or energy, they may be signs of a mood disorder—not Borderline Personality Disorder.
  • Self-harming behavior, such as cutting.
  • Recurring thoughts of suicidal behaviors or threats.
  • Intense and highly changeable moods, with each episode lasting from a few hours to a few days.
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness.
  • Inappropriate, intense anger or problems controlling anger.
  • Difficulty trusting, which is sometimes accompanied by irrational fear of other people’s intentions.
  • Feelings of dissociation, such as feeling cut off from oneself, seeing oneself from outside one’s body, or feelings of unreality.

Not everyone with Borderline Personality Disorder experiences every symptom. Some individuals experience only a few symptoms, while others have many. Symptoms can be triggered by seemingly ordinary events. For example, people with BPD may become angry and distressed over minor separations from people to whom they feel close, such as traveling on business trips. The severity and frequency of symptoms and how long they last will vary depending on the individual and their illness. [1]

Borderline Personality Disorder Complications

You may suffer emotional harm in many areas of your life. This can spill over to a negative impact on your intimate relationships, school, job, self-image, and social activities. This can result in repeated job losses, or failing to complete your education. That you can see with multiple legal issues, resulting in jail time, conflict-filled relationships, marital stress, or divorce. 

Also, BPD can show self-injury, involvement in abusive relationships. Also in unplanned pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, motor vehicle accidents, and physical fights. These BPD behaviors are due to impulsive and risky behavior which can lead to attempted or even actual suicide. Furthermore, mental health disorders can result from depression, alcohol, or other substance abuse. In addition to anxiety disorders, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and other personality disorders. [2]

Risk Factors

The cause of Borderline Personality Disorder is not yet clear, but research suggests that genetics, brain structure and function, and environmental, cultural, and social factors play a role, or may increase the risk for developing BPD.

  • Family History: People who have a close family member, such as a parent or sibling with the disorder may be at higher risk of developing BPD.
  • Brain Factors: Studies show that people with BPD can have structural and functional changes in the brain especially in the areas that control impulses and emotional regulation. But is it not clear whether these changes are risk factors for the disorder, or caused by the disorder.
  • Environmental, Cultural, and Social Factors: Many people with BPD report experiencing traumatic life events, such as abuse, abandonment, or adversity during childhood. Others may have been exposed to unstable, invalidating relationships, and hostile conflicts.

Although these factors may increase a person’s risk, it does not mean that the person will develop Borderline Personality Disorder. Likewise, there may be people without these risk factors who will develop BPD in their lifetime.

Borderline Personality Disorder Causes

A Borderline Personality Disorder is currently being studied. Some aspects of the cause of BPD illness are unknown. But can perhaps relate to child abuse or neglect.  Genetics is another cause of BPD. One can inherit BPD-related genes. We already understand that generics have a strong association with other mental health disorders among family members.

In addition, Brain abnormalities are also possible causes for BPD. Based on research, BPD shows changes in certain areas of the brain. These are sections of the brain that involve emotion regulation, impulsivity, and aggression. Brain chemicals that help regulate mood, such as serotonin, may not function properly.

Finally, environmental, cultural, and social factors where you might experience traumatic life events are contributors. These include abandonment, or adversity during childhood, exposure to unstable invalidating relationships, and hostile conflicts.

Borderline Personality Disorder
BPD shows changes in certain areas of the brain. These are sections of the brain that involve emotion regulation, impulsivity, and aggression.

If you notice signs or symptoms in a family member or friend, please do not hesitate to talk to a person about seeing a doctor or mental health provider. If your relationship causes significant stress, you may find it helpful to see a therapist yourself. [1]

Treatments and Therapies

Borderline Personality Disorder has historically been viewed as difficult to treat. But, with newer, evidence-based treatment, many people with the disorder experience fewer or less severe symptoms, and improved quality of life. People with BPD must receive evidence-based, specialized treatment from an appropriately trained provider. Other types of treatment, or treatment provided by a doctor or therapist who is not appropriately trained, may not benefit the person.

Many factors affect the length of time it takes for symptoms to improve once treatment begins, so it is important for people with BPD and their loved ones to be patient and to receive appropriate support during treatment.

Tests and Diagnosis

A licensed mental health professional—such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or clinical social worker—experienced in diagnosing and treating mental disorders can diagnose BPD by:

  • Completing a thorough interview, including a discussion about symptoms
  • Performing a careful and thorough medical exam, which can help rule out other possible causes of symptoms
  • Asking about family medical histories, including any history of mental illness

BPD often occurs with other mental illnesses. Co-occurring disorders can make it harder to diagnose and treat BPD, especially if symptoms of other illnesses overlap with the symptoms of BPD. For example, a person with BPD may be more likely to also experience symptoms of depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, or eating disorders.

Seek and Stick with Treatment

NIMH-funded studies show that people with Borderline-Personality Disorders who don’t receive adequate treatment are: [1]

  • More likely to develop other chronic medical or mental illnesses
  • Less likely to make healthy lifestyle choices

Borderline-Personality Disorder is also associated with a significantly higher rate of self-harm and suicidal behavior than the general public. People with Personality Disorder who are thinking of harming themselves or attempting suicide need help right away.


Psychotherapy is the first-line treatment for people with Borderline Disorder. A therapist can provide one-on-one treatment between the therapist and patient, or treatment in a group setting. Therapist-led group sessions may help teach people with Borderline Personality how to interact with others and how to effectively express themselves.

It is important that people in therapy get along with, and trust their therapist. The very nature of Borderline Personality illness can make it difficult for people with the disorder to maintain a comfortable and trusting bond with their therapist.

Two examples of psychotherapies used to treat Borderline Personality disorder include:

Borderline Personality Disorder
Psychotherapy is the first-line treatment for people with Borderline- Personality Disorder.
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): This type of therapy was developed for individuals with Borderline Disorder. DBT uses concepts of mindfulness and acceptance or being aware of and attentive to the current situation and emotional state. DBT also teaches skills that can help:
    • Control intense emotions
    • Reduce self-destructive behaviors
    • Improve relationships
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This type of therapy can help people with BPD identify and change core beliefs and behaviors that underlie inaccurate perceptions of themselves and others, and problems interacting with others. CBT may help reduce a range of mood and anxiety symptoms and reduce the number of suicidal or self-harming behaviors.


Because the benefits are unclear, medications are not typically used as the primary treatment for Borderline Personality cases. However, in some cases, a psychiatrist may recommend medications to treat specific symptoms such as:

  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Other co-occurring mental disorders

Treatment with medications may require care from more than one medical professional.

Certain medications can cause different side effects in different people. Talk to your doctor about what to expect from a particular medication.

Other Elements of Care

Some people with Borderline Personality experience severe symptoms and need intensive, often inpatient, care. Others may use some outpatient treatments but never need hospitalization or emergency care.

Therapy for Caregivers and Family Members

Families and caregivers of people with Personality Disorder may also benefit from therapy. Having a relative or loved one with the disorder can be stressful, and family members or caregivers may unintentionally act in ways that can worsen their loved one’s symptoms.

Some Borderline Personality therapies include family members, caregivers, or loved ones in treatment sessions. This type of therapy helps by:

  • Allowing the relative or loved one develop skills to better understand and support a person with BPD.
  • Focusing on the needs of family members to help them understand the obstacles and strategies for caring for someone with BPD. Although more research is needed to determine the effectiveness of family therapy in Borderline Disorder, studies on other mental disorders suggest that including family members can help in a person’s treatment.

Borderline Personality Disorder Residential Treatment California

BPD is a condition that should not be taken lightly. We Level Up CA Treatment Center can provide you, or someone you love, the tools to treat Personality disorders with professional and safe care. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. We can inform you about this condition by giving you relevant information. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.


[1] National Institute of Mental Health – ‘Borderline-Personality Disorder’ (

[2] Border Personality TreatmentHow Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) Affects Relationships (