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Borderline personality disorder is a mental illness that primarily affects mood. People with the disorder suffer from unstable moods that can become severe, leading in some to instances of dissociation. The instability interferes with an individual’s self-image and relationship with others, personally, professionally and socially. Suicide is not uncommon among sufferers, particularly those who do not receive professional care.SymptomsSymptoms of borderline personality disorder (BPD) include temperamental behavior, including extreme and frequent mood swings between anger, depression and anxiety. A person with BPD may experience an intense bout of depression, only to have that mood replaced hours later with an equally intense bout of anger. Sufferers demonstrate high sensitivity, reacting strongly to perceived or actual treatment by others, and frequently seem to have little self-identity. The lack of a strong sense of self, coupled with strong changes in mood can manifest in frequent changes of relationship, long-term goals and values.Other symptoms of BPD include impulsive and destructive behaviors, such as substance abuse, unsafe sex, binge eating, gambling and other high-risk activities. In relationships, those with BPD can be insecure and overly sensitive to signs of rejection or abandonment. They can switch quickly from feelings of adoration to hate after minor or perceived slights and can react strongly to mild separations, such as a vacation by their partner or a family member, with expressions of abandonment or worthlessness. Sufferers express feelings of powerlessness and vulnerability, at times leading to manipulative behaviors.BPD sufferers have a high incidence of self-injury, with or with out suicidal intent, and those with BPD are particularly susceptible to suicide attempts as a result of stressful events such as sexual abuse. BPD can lead to the development of other disorders, such as depression.CausesBorderline personality disorder is classified as a relatively stable personality disorder, compared with illnesses such as schizophrenia. The disorder affects approximately 2 percent of adults and accounts for 20 percent of psychiatric hospitalizations. Definitive causes of BPD are unknown, though researchers suggest a number of possibilities, including trauma, genetic predisposition, environmental factors and brain or neurofunction abnormalities.Risk factors for developing BPD include a hereditary predisposition of a close family member has the disorder and childhood abuse or neglect. The condition more commonly affects women than men.TreatmentBPD is diagnosed as a result of a psychological evaluation by a medical professional using criteria indicated in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). To receive a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, an individual must demonstrate five of the following symptoms on a chronic basis:- Intense fear of abandonment- Unstable and intense relationships - Unstable self-image- Impulsiveness regarding at least two self-damaging behaviors- Suicidal or self-mutilating behavior- Unstable moods, often lasting just hours- Feelings of worthlessness or emptiness- Inappropriate or uncontrolled anger- Dissociation or ideationTypically, BPD is treated with psychotherapy. Group and individual sessions have proven effective, and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is showing promise. Medication is sometimes administered to assist with symptoms such as anxiety or depression.
This article is brought to you by Argosy University. Argosy University has developed a curriculum that focuses on interpersonal skills and practical experience alongside academic learning.
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