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Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder is often misdiagnosed and misunderstood.

Because effective treatment for the symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) requires specific therapies, recognizing those symptoms is important. The individual’s presentation in the mental health professional’s office may not give a clear picture of the difficulties experienced by the client. In addition, individuals with BPD often exhibit symptoms of eating disorders, substance abuse, and mood disorders at various times. Family members can be helpful to the professional in clarifying the diagnosis, but sometimes the individual does not wish family members to be involved.

Individuals with BPD struggle with intense emotions. They tend to react quickly, feel emotions intensely, and their emotions take longer to dissipate. They often experience intense emotional pain that may lead to self-harm, suicide attempts and other impulsive behaviors. Substance abuse, excessive shopping, and eating disorders are some of the other ways they try to decrease or numb the pain.

Individuals with BPD anger quickly. They may say they hate you and yet fear that you will abandon them. They may idealize you at times. Their relationships can be chaotic and exhausting for those who love them as well as the individual with BPD.

When overwhelmed with emotions individuals with BPD cannot think clearly and their view of the world may be distorted. They can be suspicious of others at the same time they crave acceptance.

For many years, BPD was believed to be more prevalent in women. Recent studies have suggested the disorder is equally prevalent in both men and women.

In the past, borderline personality disorder was considered difficult to treat and the prognosis was considered poor. That is no longer the case. Therapies have been developed and proven to be effective through research. BPD is treatable(https://goo.gl/spekkG) Dialectical Behavior Therapy (https://goo.gl/OdYMVD) is one of the evidenced-based therapies for BPD.

Family involvement makes a difference in treatment outcomes. One of the most helpful actions family members can take is to learn effective communication strategies, including accurate expression and validation.

Written by Karyn Hall, PhD, and the Founder and Director of the Dialectical Behavior Therapy Center