How Common Is Borderline Personality Disorder?Lindsay Chambers
Borderline personality disorder is a mental health issue that causes relationship instability, erratic behavior and fears of abandonment. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1.4% of U.S. adults experience BPD, and 75% of people diagnosed with this disorder are women.
The first mental health professionals to identify this disorder’s characteristics believed its symptoms put people on the precipice of developing more severe mental health diagnoses like schizophrenia – hence, the term “borderline.” However, based on what we now know, it’s more accurate to think of BPD as a form of emotional dysregulation.
What Is Borderline Personality Disorder?
BPD fits the definition of a personality disorder because its symptoms can affect your behavioral and relationship patterns. If you have BPD, you might struggle with unpredictable mood swings that can shift without warning. You could also have low self-worth that causes you to push people away.
People with BPD tend to have a distorted sense of self and may feel chronically bored or empty. As a result, you may experiment with reckless behavior like excess spending, unprotected sex, binge eating, self-harm or substance abuse. Unfortunately, these can make your BPD worse in the long run by contributing to shame and guilt, causing feelings of worthlessness.
What Causes BPD?
While our scientific knowledge of BPD is still somewhat lacking compared to our understanding of other mental illnesses, it’s safe to say that mental illnesses like borderline personality disorder don’t have one readily identifiable cause. Instead, they stem from a complex interplay of genetic and environmental influences.
For example, trauma or abuse experienced in childhood or early adulthood may play a role in whether someone eventually develops this mental health problem. BPD can also co-occur alongside other issues, including substance use disorders. Some evidence suggests people with BPD might have neurological differences, specifically in the areas that regulate emotions and decision-making abilities.
BPD Diagnosis and Treatment
Though three-quarters of people who receive a BPD diagnosis are women, borderline personality disorder in men may get misidentified as other conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder or depression.
There is no definitive medical screening to diagnose BPD. Instead, a general practitioner or mental health professional will ask you questions about your symptoms and experiences and compare them with the diagnostic framework defined in the DSM-5. They will likely also perform a physical exam to rule out other illnesses that may mimic borderline personality disorder.
BPD does not resolve on its own, and without treatment, your symptoms’ severity can increase over time. A therapist with experience in addressing BPD can use specific, evidence-based techniques like behavioral therapy to help improve your mental well-being and overall quality of life.
Meeting Your Needs With Individualized Care
Nearly one in five American adults lives with one or more mental illnesses, so if you have borderline personality disorder, it’s critical to remember you are not alone. At Serene Behavioral Health, we will tailor a treatment plan to your unique needs, with four levels of care to help you recover your emotional wellness. To learn more about our multidisciplinary approach, reach out to us today.