While we have started to talk more about mental health, we often do not focus on borderline personality disorder. When discussing any mental health disorder, if we observe indications or symptoms of a mental health disorder in a family member or acquaintance, we should talk to them about seeing a medical or mental health professional. But it is important to remember that compelling someone to seek help is often not the best choice. If our relationship with them is causing us stress, we might want to consult a therapist ourselves.
What is borderline personality disorder (BPD)?
Borderline personality disorder is a mental health disorder that affects how someone thinks and feels about themselves and others, producing difficulties in daily functioning. BPD involves challenges with self-esteem, difficulties controlling emotions, difficulties with conduct, and a history of unstable relationships. If someone has a borderline personality disorder, they may have a profound fear of abandonment or instability and may find it difficult to accept being alone. Even if they desire meaningful and enduring relationships, improper anger, impulsivity, and frequent mood swings may push people away.
When is BPD diagnosed?
Borderline personality disorder typically appears in adolescence and early adulthood. The issues are normally more severe in adolescence and improve with age. If someone we know has a borderline personality disorder, we should not give up on them. Many people with this condition improve with therapy and live full lives.
How is BPD treated?
Therapists may prescribe residential therapy in a mental health treatment facility. An adolescent treatment facility that specialises in BPD should provide both therapy and on-site 24/7 full-time supervision. This is vital if a teen is struggling with self-harm and suicide ideation. We should ensure that the medical practitioners we choose are treating BPD holistically, including individual and family therapy, skills-training groups, and skills coaching.
What are the symptoms of BPD?
Borderline personality disorder impacts how someone feels about themselves, interact with others, and act. BPD signs and symptoms include:
- An intense fear of abandonment, even resorting to extraordinary measures to avoid real or imagined separation or rejection.
- A pattern of unstable intense relationships, such as idealising someone one moment and then suddenly believing the person doesn’t care enough or is cruel.
- Rapid changes in self-identity and self-image include shifting goals and values and seeing themselves as bad person or not existing at all.
- Periods of stress-related paranoia and loss of contact with reality, lasting from a few minutes to a few hours.
- Impulsive and risky behaviour, such as gambling, reckless driving, unsafe sex, spending sprees, binge eating or drug abuse. In addition, those with BPD can sabotage success by suddenly quitting a good job or discontinuing a positive relationship.
- Suicidal threats or behaviour or self-injury, often due to fear of separation or rejection.
- Wide mood swings lasting from a few hours to a few days, which can include intense happiness, irritability, shame, or anxiety.
- Ongoing feelings of emptiness
- Inappropriate, intense anger, like frequently losing their temper, being sarcastic or bitter, or having physical fights.
Why is BPD so challenging?
Teenagers with BPD commonly self-harm and contemplate suicide due to their mental distress. Studies show 80% of BPD patients attempt suicide. And 10% of them die due to their attempts. This is a rather high death rate, 50% higher than the general population. This is why if we think someone we know has BPD, we should encourage them to connect with a mental health professional.
How are medical centres different from hospitals?
Since more and more people are demanding all-encompassing treatment that is also inexpensive, the medical industry is expanding its scope. To relieve hospital strain, dedicated outpatient clinics have formed. Long-term treatment centres are increasingly popping up to accommodate those whose recovery will take months or years of treatment.
There are several levels of treatment centres. After completing residential treatment in a teen mental health treatment centre, a teen with a borderline personality disorder may be transferred to a partial hospitalisation programme (PHP) or an intensive outpatient programme (IOP). If an adolescent’s symptoms are not severe enough to justify full-time residential therapy, he or she may begin treatment at a PHP or IOP.
Ellen Diamond, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.