Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental illness characterized by significant psychological instability and uncertainty about one’s identity. People with BPD have difficulty controlling their feelings and experience substantial changes in their personality over short periods of time.
Those who have a family history of mental illness or personality disorders are at a higher risk for developing one of the many personality disorders, as are those who had physical, verbal or sexual abuse as a child, or individuals who experienced the loss of a parent, whether through divorce or death.
Personality disorders are thought to develop due to a combination of environmental influences and genetics. For instance, if one has a troubled childhood and was treated abusively, it is more likely they will develop a personality disorder than someone who was raised in a supportive and secure home environment.
Borderline Personality Disorder Causes
As with other mental disorders, the causes of personality disorder aren’t fully understood. In addition to environmental factors such as a history of child abuse or neglect, a personality disorder may be linked to:
Brain abnormalities. Some research has shown changes in regions of the brain impulsivity, and aggression. In addition, certain brain chemicals that help regulate mood, like melatonin, may not work properly.
Genetics. Some studies of twins and families suggest that personality disorders may be inherited or strongly associated with psychological disorders among family members.
Borderline Personality Disorder Symptoms
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) manifests in many ways, but for the purposes of diagnosis, mental health professionals group the symptoms. To be diagnosed with BPD, you must show signs of at least five signs. Furthermore, these symptoms must be long-standing (usually beginning in adolescence) and pervasive across many regions of your life.
Fear of abandonment – You may be terrified of being abandoned or left alone. Intense fear can be triggered by something as innocuous as a loved one getting home late from work or going away for the weekend. This contributes to keeping the person close. You may beg, cling, start fights, or track the loved one’s movements, or even physically block another individual.
Unclear or shaky self-image – Your sense of self is generally unstable when you have BPD. You might feel good but sometimes you hate yourself or perhaps view yourself as evil. You likely don’t have a clear idea of who you are or what you want in life. As a result, you may often change jobs, friends, lovers, religion, values, goals, and sexual identity.
Unstable relationships– Individuals with BPD tend to have intense and short-lived relationships. You may fall in love quickly, believing each new person is the one who will make you feel whole, only to be immediately disappointed. Your relationships either seem perfect or horrible, with nothing in between.
Impulsive behaviors – You might engage in harmful behaviors when angry. You overdo it, drive recklessly, shoplift, engage in risky sex, spend money you can’t afford, or binge eat. These risky behaviors may help you feel better in the moment, but these activities hurt you and the people around you in the long term.
Self-harm behavior – Such behavior includes making suicidal gestures or threats, thinking about suicide, or even carrying out a suicide attempt. Self-harm includes the rest of the efforts to hurt yourself without intent. Self-harm includes cutting and burning.
Explosive anger – You might struggle with intense anger and a short temper if you have BPD. You could have trouble getting consumed by rage, throwing things, or controlling you. It’s important to note that this anger isn’t constantly directed outwards. You may spend a lot of time being angry at yourself.
Emotional swings – Unstable moods and emotions are typical with BPD. One moment, you might feel happy, and sad in the next. Small things which people brush off send you into a psychological tailspin. These mood swings are extreme, but they tend to pass quickly (unlike the emotional swings of depression or bipolar disorder), usually lasting just a few minutes or hours.
Chronic feelings of emptiness – People with BPD often talk about feeling empty, as if there’s a hole or a void inside them. At the most, you may feel like you’re nothing or nobody so you try to fill the gap with things like food, drugs, or sex.
Questionable or out of touch with reality – Individuals with BPD often struggle with paranoia or suspicious thoughts about other people’s motives. You might lose touch with real experience, when under stress. You may feel spaced out, foggy, or as if you’re outside your own body.
Borderline Personality Disorder Treatment
Treatment of BPD has improved in recent years. Both individual and group psychotherapy have proven to be at least partially effective for most people with the disease. In the last fifteen decades, a new form of treatment referred to as Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) has been developed specifically for the treatment of borderline personality disorder; it’s a technique that appears to be promising in studies. Medication treatment is prescribed based on the symptoms the individual presents. Mood stabilizers and antidepressants help as well. If a person with BPD experiences thought distortions, medications may be administered.
Psychotherapy is the ideal treatment for BPD; there are two major kinds of psychotherapy treatments in relation to the disorder:
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT): DBT was designed specifically to treat the disease. Normally conducted through team, individual and phone counseling, DBT uses a skills-based approach to teach you to tolerate distress, help you regulate your emotions, and improve relationships.
Transference-focused psychotherapy (TFP): TFP centers on the relationship between you and your therapist, helping you understand the emotions and difficulties inevitably arising in the connection. You can apply what you have learned in different relationships.
Qualifying Borderline Personality Disorder Benefits
To qualify for disability benefits through Social Security, including Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you need to show that you are unable to work because of your impairment. You can convince Social Security in one of two ways:
Inability to work – You must provide evidence that you’re not able to do any work. Social Security will consider your physical and psychological abilities and impairments using its Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) form and will look at your age, job experience, and work history in considering your ability to work.
Meeting the disability listing – To meet with the listing, you must show that you have all the criteria noted in the Social Security blue book.