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A diagnosis of borderline personality disorder doesn’t have to be a sentence to suffer. Not that long ago, we didn’t even have a name for this issue, but now the medical profession knows a lot more about the disorder and has devised more and more ways to help individuals who are dealing with this diagnosis.

What is borderline personality disorder?

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a mental illness that is often diagnosed in late adolescence or early adulthood. It generally worsens through young adulthood but could get better as the patient increases in age.

Primarily, Borderline Personality Disorder has a large impact on the way the patient feels about themselves and others around them. For instance, a person with BPD doesn’t merely dislike being overweight or having a large nose. They obsess about their self-image. They also have difficulty managing their emotions and controlling their behavior, with outbursts being a normal part of their difficulties.

Often, relationships are difficult for these individuals, including with those to whom they are close. Though a person with BPD fears abandonment, their acting out often pushes others away. Impulsiveness, anger, and uncontrollable mood swings are a huge part of the problem when it comes to forming stable relationships with others.

People with Borderline Personality Disorder can greatly benefit from the correct treatment(s) and it’s not unreasonable to believe that their lives may become less chaotic and more “normal” as the years pass.

Watching out for common symptoms

There are many signs that could indicate someone has BPD, but it’s important to remember that some of these symptoms are also associated with other mental health disorders, such as depression or anxiety, bipolar disorder, and more. While this list is meant to be a guideline, only a professional can make a definitive diagnosis.

  • Fear of separation or rejection, which often results in thoughts of suicide. As such, the individual goes to great lengths to avoid such separation.
  • Wide mood swings, which can last up to several days. The person exhibits very high highs and immense lows as well as anxiety or extreme irritability.
  • Loss of contact with reality or extreme periods of paranoia, often stress related.
  • Feelings described as “emptiness”.
  • Loss of temper or periods of inappropriate rage, and sarcasm, as well as physical fights with others deemed a threat.
  • Rapid changes in self-image or self-identity including the shifting of values and goals.
  • Extremely impulsive and/or dangerous behavior like driving while drunk, sexual promiscuity, spending sprees, and gambling.

What causes BPD?

There isn’t a definitive answer as to why one person develops BPD and another doesn’t. Some studies have indicated potential brain abnormalities that trigger behaviors like impulsivity and anger amongst those with the disorder. Brain chemicals that regulate mood may not be produced properly as well.

In addition, there is some indication that heredity may play a role in this (and other) personality disorders. If a close relative has dealt with BPD, you may have more of a chance of developing it as well.

Other studies show that a dysfunctional childhood could be the reason for Borderline Personality Disorder. For example, young victims of physical or sexual abuse may be more likely to be diagnosed with BPD or those who lost a parent at an early age (either through death or some other form of separation) may be candidates for developing BPD.

Complications of BPD

Unfortunately, Borderline Personality Disorder can cause far-reaching complications in the lives of its victims. Because it often affects adolescents or young adults, plans for later adulthood can be thrown into a tailspin. For example, the individual might:

  • Quit or change jobs often
  • Quit school
  • Have marital difficulties that result in divorce
  • Become involved in complicated legal problems due to uncontrolled anger or other issues, sometimes resulting in prison time.
  • May become involved in abusive relationships
  • Females may become pregnant due to promiscuous behavior

Diagnosis and treatment

A psychological evaluation and interview by a mental health professional is the best way to determine if someone has Borderline Personality Disorder. Look for an individual who is trained in spotting the signs and symptoms of the disease and can ask the right questions to determine the diagnosis and distinguish it from other similar disorders.

Once a diagnosis is made, the medical professional involved will generally recommend psychotherapy but may also discuss potential medications. If the doctor determines that the individual may be a harm to himself/herself or others, hospitalization or some other sort of in-patient program may be recommended.


Dr. Ellie Bolgar and her associates have decades of collective experience treating individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder and other related disorders. This comprehensive team of professionals possess the skills and expertise needed to address the problems that accompany the disorder and to help the individual make strides towards a life of peaceful co-existence with themselves and others. To schedule an appointment with one of the associates, call 604-371-0198.