Do you have someone in your life who, most of the time, have terrible mood fluctuations, multiple unstable relationships, always feel empty and impulsive? Are these affecting their personal and professional life? You may consider seeking a professional opinion as these are primary symptoms of borderline personality disorder or BPD.
Here are few questions that may help you identify signs of BPD. You may agree or disagree to the following.
- Almost all of my relationships are unstable where at times I over idealize the person or undervalue them.
- In a relationship, constantly have the feeling that the other person would abandon me.
- At times when I am upset I tend to or think about harming myself.
- I have difficulties accommodating with changes and I almost all the time get angry when it happens.
- In relationships, I tend to get too easily intimate.
- I, almost all the time, tend to sever mood swings where I am angry at someone at one time and after a little while I am friendly towards them.
- Almost all the time my reactions to incidents are out of proportion and control.
- I constantly feel a sense of emptiness.
- When upset I tend to get into risky or harmful activities such as smoking, drinking, unprotected sex, reckless driving, binge eating, etc.
- My view of myself keeps changing.
- If I feel the other person is going to abandon me, I tend to become emotionally distant with them
- My goals in life or activities keep changing.
- When I feel the other person is going to abandon me I frantically make efforts to avoid it.
- Most or some of the above mentioned problems are so intense that it affects my profession/studies.
- Most or some of the above mentioned problems are so intense that it affects my relation with others.
If you have agreed to more that 7 of the above (it should include statement 14 and 15) then you may consider approaching a psychologist or psychiatrist. Note: these statements cannot be used to diagnose BPD.
Whom should I Meet?
There are many mental health professional, psychologist and psychiatrist, who would help you with your difficulty.
Psychologist- Play an important role in diagnosis and testing via various psychological tests and questionnaires. Psychologists provide psychotherapies such as Dialectical behavioural therapy, schema focused therapy, mentalization based therapy and others that are seen to be effective in the treatment of BPD
Psychiatrist- Psychiatrists provide psychopharmacological therapy, medications such as antidepressants, antipsychotics and mood depressants. These address the hormonal imbalance and other physical issues associated to BPD.
1. What are the nine main symptoms of BPD?
- Hypersensitivity to rejection: an excessive emotional reaction to perceived rejection or criticism.
- Identity confusion: a lack of clear, stable self-identity, often leading to uncertainty about one's values and goals.
- Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment: desperate attempts to prevent the abandonment of close relationships, even when abandonment is not imminent or likely.
- Unstable Relationships: Consistent patterns of tumultuous, unpredictable, and intense relationships with frequent conflicts
- Explosive anger: uncontrollable and intense outbursts of anger or aggression
- Suicide or self-harming behavior: engaging in deliberate self-injury or expressing suicidal thoughts and actions
- Impulsivity: acting without thinking, often resulting in risky or harmful behaviors.
- Distorted perceptions of time: a skewed sense of time, which may involve feeling as if events occurred in the distant past or are imminent in the future.
- Transient paranoia or dissociations: temporary experiences of intense distrust or disconnection from reality.
2. Do I have BPD or Bipolar?
Distinguishing between borderline personality disorder (BPD) and bipolar disorderdistinguish: can be challenging, as they share some overlapping symptoms and both can affect mood and behavior. Here are a few signs to help you distinguish
- Emotional Triggers: BPD mood swings are often triggered by interpersonal stressors, while bipolar mood episodes (mania and depression) may occur without an obvious trigger.
- Impulsivity: BPD impulsivity is often related to emotional distress (e.g., self-harm during emotional turmoil), while in bipolar disorder, impulsivity may be more linked to manic episodes (e.g., excessive spending during a high-energy phase).
- Chronic vs. Episodic: BPD typically involves chronic instability in mood, self-image, and relationships. Bipolar disorder, however, presents with episodic and distinct mood episodes.
- Self-Identity: BPD individuals often struggle with a shifting self-identity and fear of abandonment. Bipolar disorder doesn't typically involve these identity issues.
- Response to Medication: BPD is primarily treated with psychotherapy, while bipolar disorder often requires mood stabilizers or antipsychotic medications.
It's essential to seek a comprehensive evaluation by a mental health professional to make an accurate diagnosis, as these disorders can co-occur or be misdiagnosed.
3. How can I check if I have BPD?
To determine if you have BPD, it is essential to consult a mental health provider. They will conduct a thorough assessment, which typically includes a clinical interview, a psychological evaluation, and a review of your family and medical history. While tools for self-assessment are available, they can often be misleading, so seeking help from a qualified therapist becomes necessary.
4. What does BPD look like in females?
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) in females can manifest with subtle markers, including:
- Hypersexuality: Females with BPD might experience intense sexual preoccupation, leading to frequent changes in partners or compulsive sexual behaviors.
- Affective Dysregulation: Beyond mood swings, they may experience intense, complex emotions such as chronic feelings of emptiness and difficulty recognizing and managing subtle shifts in their emotional states.
- Covert Self-Harm: Instead of obvious self-injury, some females with BPD may engage in less overt self-destructive behaviors, like extreme self-neglect, reckless sexual encounters, or compulsive spending.
- Idealization and Devaluation: They might idealize someone one moment and devalue them the next, struggling to maintain consistent, stable relationships due to extreme shifts in perception.
- Microaggressions: BPD in females can involve frequent, subtle interpersonal conflicts and passive-aggressive behaviors, causing stress in their relationships but often escaping notice due to their subtlety.
5. Does BPD ever go away?
In most cases, symptoms of BPD diminish with age. Some people's symptoms go away as they reach their forties. Many people with BPD can learn to control their symptoms and improve their quality of life with the correct treatment.