Think of a pressing mental health condition. Depression or anxiety may come to mind, and they should. But 1.6% of Americans have borderline personality disorder (BPD).
Many people have heard of BPD. Yet they don’t know much about it, or they believe misconceptions about it, such as there is no treatment for it.
What is borderline personality disorder? What causes it, and what are its main symptoms? What are some treatment solutions that can help someone get to the roots of their problems?
A personality disorder impacts how a person thinks and behaves. Someone develops rigid thought patterns that are unhealthy and unusual. Their thought patterns impact how they take care of themselves, talk to others, and perform tasks at work.
BPD is a personality disorder that creates mood swings and feelings of intense insecurity. It is called “borderline” because doctors thought that it created a state between psychosis and neurosis.
Doctors no longer think this is the case. Yet people with borderline personality disorder can dissociate from their environment when they encounter extreme stress, akin to people with psychosis. They may seem neurotic to others because they are concerned with small details and tasks.
Doctors are not sure of what the causes of borderline personality disorder are. BPD may occur due to child abuse and neglect. Yet not all people who experience child abuse develop borderline personality disorder.
Scientists have identified two genes that can increase a person’s risk for BPD. These genes also increase someone’s risk for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Someone whose parents have BPD is at a 46% risk of inheriting and developing it.
Brain abnormalities can also increase a person’s risk. The amygdala is the part of the brain that regulates negative emotions such as fear. An individual with a smaller amygdala is more likely to develop BPD.
People with depression and anxiety disorders have a higher risk for BPD. Their genes may be triggering multiple disorders at once.
Most people with BPD have an intense fear of being abandoned. They may go out of their way to avoid being separated from others. They may call someone numerous times on the phone or go out of the house when they are by themselves.
Their relationships may become unstable. They may seem supportive at first because they have an idealized view of their friend or partner.
But as time goes on, their support may fall away. They may believe that their partner does not care about them or is being cruel.
Someone may have profound trouble with their self-image. Their values may change for no apparent reason. They may regard themselves as bad or insignificant.
Mood swings can occur at any moment. A person may lose their temper for a small reason or no reason. They may also become very happy, ashamed, or anxious for a few hours.
Some people with BPD perform risky behaviors. They may drive recklessly, quit their job, or abuse substances. They may harm themselves, usually out of their fear of abandonment.
A person with borderline personality disorder may express their feelings to other people. They may say that they feel empty or confused about themselves. They may also say that they are paranoid or out of touch with the world around them.
Anyone who experiences BPD can learn how to treat it. There is no one treatment that works for everyone. Someone should pursue personalized solutions that tackle their specific symptoms.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of talk therapy that helps people with chronic personality disorders. The therapy helps a person understand their thought patterns. As time goes on, the person replaces their faulty thoughts with productive ones.
CBT focuses on the person’s current life. They figure out how they can affect their present actions so they improve their health. This can help someone move on from traumatic memories and learn how to cope with stress.
Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is a type of CBT. DBT centers around talk therapy, like CBT.
The difference is that a therapist incorporates mindfulness into their approach. A person learns how to pay attention to their sensations and senses rather than their racing thoughts.
DBT can help a person start identifying self-harm triggers. If they encounter a trigger, an individual can distract themselves and find a way to soothe their thoughts. They can walk away from the situation or focus on their breathing.
Schemas are beliefs that stem from abusive childhood experiences. A child who does not receive love may feel ashamed or unworthy of love. As the child grows up, they may develop unhealthy thought patterns around this belief.
Schema-focused therapy targets those particular beliefs and thoughts. Like CBT, a person works with a therapist to identify their thoughts.
They then perform exercises that help them vent their anger and trauma. These exercises can include making art.
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is no light matter. It can come from genes, brain dysfunction, and personal trauma.
It creates a serious impact on people’s lives. The person with it may experience intense mood swings, anxiety, and trouble with their self-image. They may abuse their partners or harm and unsettle them through risky behaviors.
Yet treatment can tackle the condition. Talk therapy like CBT and DBT can help someone confront their harmful thoughts and cope with stress.
You can start treatment for borderline personality disorder. First Light Recovery serves the San Juan Capistrano area. Contact us today.