Borderline Personality Disorder
Intense love. Inappropriate rage. Extreme hatred. Many of us experience these feelings from time to time. Now, imagine what it feels like to have all these concentrated emotions daily. This emotional roller coaster is characteristic of someone diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.
Individuals with borderline personality disorder experience strong emotions flaring up and diminishing quite rapidly, often within hours. With few understanding the source of their feelings, people living with borderline personality disorder get little or no sympathy from those around them.
Borderline personality disorder is often characterized by mood swings, instability of relationships, difficulties with long-term planning and impulse control and problems with self-identity. One of the key symptoms is an obsessive fear of abandonment—desperately wanting close relationships while simultaneously pushing people away with impulsive, irrational behavior. Individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder have an elevated incidence of harming themselves through self-mutilation (i.e., cutting, burning) and suicidal gestures.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, about 1.6 percent of U.S. adults are diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, but it could be as high as 5.9 percent. Nearly 75 percent of those diagnosed with borderline personality disorder are women and often require hospitalization because of the severity of their symptoms.
Individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder have symptoms identified with the mnemonic PRAISE:
Abandonment fears, angry outbursts, affective instability
Identity disturbance, impulsive behavior
Because of the severe instability of emotions and impulsive behaviors, individuals with borderline personality disorder tend to say, “I feel like I’m losing my mind” or “I’m so misunderstood.” Often, they are perceived as emotionally unstable from those who know them and have difficulties maintaining jobs, completing their education, or experiencing fulfilling relationships.
Below is a list of some of the common signs and symptoms of borderline personality disorder:
- Obsessive abandonment issues
- Feeling misunderstood
- Suicidal gestures
- Physical altercations
- Suicidal threats
- Emotionally overly reactive
- Self-mutilating behaviors
- Impulsive behavior
- Affective instability
- Impulsive, unprotected sex
- Chronic feelings of emptiness
- Inappropriate angry outbursts
- Difficulty controlling emotions
- Loss of reality
- Binge eating
- Impulsive spending
- Low self-esteem
- Reckless driving
- Repeated job losses
(Because these symptoms in and of themselves do not always indicate the presence of borderline personality disorder, please contact your physician or mental health treatment provider to obtain an accurate diagnosis.)
Fortunately, borderline personality disorder can be treated successfully, and in fact, recent research shows that the prognosis over time is much better than previously assumed but treatment must be long term within a consistent, empathetic but firm therapeutic frame.
Lifeskills South Florida offers evidence-based treatment modalities, such as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), to treat borderline personality disorder. We offer a 13-week DBT skills training program, which uses a combination of psychotherapy techniques, education, and individual and group psychotherapy to support the patient’s progress. Some studies have shown that DBT has reduced the frequency of self-harm and the intensity of suicidal thinking.
In addition to DBT, patients diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, benefit best from a combination of the following treatments:
- Behavioral Therapy to change unproductive behaviors and learn appropriate coping skills
- Metallization Therapy to help individuals develop a sense of how others process thoughts, feelings, and frustrations of daily life.
- Cognitive Therapy to change unproductive thinking patterns by sorting out unrealistic thoughts
- Family Therapy to help family members who are affected by their loved one’s behaviors
- Relaxation Techniques to relieve stress and to diminish the physical symptoms of anxiety
- Group Therapy to gain new insight from others who have had similar experiences
- Medications to address prominent symptoms like mood instability, depression or cognitive distortions
Lifeskills South Florida offers unique treatment approaches with many advantages to the combination of evidence-based therapies, including:
- State-of-the-art medication management combined with DBT
- Weekly medication management meetings with clinicians
- Masters-level or greater licensed therapists foundationally trained in DBT
- A frequency of DBT individual and group therapies greater than typical once a week outpatient approaches
If you suspect that you or a loved one may be experiencing symptoms of borderline personality disorder, please contact a professional mental health professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.