Borderline Personality Disorder Symptoms This Emotional Life on PBS

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BPD

		

Symptoms

There are nine criteria for diagnosing borderline personality disorder.

If a person experiences as many as five of the nine characteristic symptoms, they can be diagnosed with the condition. This means that the way the disorder expresses itself can vary dramatically from one individual to another. For instance, two people receiving the diagnosis may only have one characteristic of the disorder in common. In addition, personality disorders often come with other major mental disorders like posttraumatic stress disorder or depression.

Symptoms

Symptoms

Borderline personality disorder symptoms:

Fears of abandonment

More severe than separation anxiety, abandonment fears occur when a person with borderline personality disorder perceives an upcoming separation, rejection or loss of routine and reacts with intense changes in self-image, manner, thought processes, and behavior. Efforts to avoid abandonment may include self-injury or even attempted suicide.

Unstable, intense relationships
A person with borderline personality disorder tends to view relationships in black and white. They typically view others as a potential source of pleasure, help, support, or satisfaction or else as a hindrance and a source of rejection. Relationship instability is further complicated by other borderline personality symptoms such as impulsiveness, reluctance to be alone, and fear of rejection.

Unstable identity

Instead of maintaining a constant sense of self, people with borderline personality disorder tend to adopt values, habits, and attitudes of the people they spend time with.

Impulsiveness
While not specifically intending to inflict self-harm, people with borderline personality disorder commonly behave recklessly or impulsively. Behavior might include alcohol or drug abuse, an eating disorder, promiscuity, or reckless driving.

Suicidal tendencies or self-injury
Multiple suicide attempts or self-injury often provide a large clue toward diagnosis of borderline personality disorder and also help to distinguish the condition when depression and anxiety are also present. Self-destructive behavior generally starts in adolescence when a person is experiencing threats of separation or rejection or is shouldering unwanted new responsibilities.

Emotional instability
People with borderline personality disorder are known to have extremely strong and explosive emotions across a broad range. These reactions usually occur in response to stresses, especially interpersonal ones, and may only last a few hours. But even during periods of relative calm and well-being, there still tends to be an underlying sense of frustration, dissatisfaction, or sadness.

Emptiness
“Nothingness.” “Hollowness.” “No feelings, no thoughts, no dreams.” These are a few of the descriptions people with borderline personality disorder use to describe their experience. Rather than boredom or suffering, this feeling of emptiness is thought to be closely related to loneliness and neediness.

Anger
Many individuals with borderline personality disorder report feeling angry much of the time, even when they aren’t expressing it. Anger might be triggered when a person feels neglected, uncared for, or abandoned. After expressing anger, individuals may feel guilty or like they are a “bad” person.

Lapses in reality
People with borderline personality disorder may experience symptoms of paranoia, like being overly suspicious of other people’s intentions, or have feelings that they and the world are unreal. These episodes are relatively short, lasting at most a few days, and generally happen during periods of great stress. They are distinguished from similar posttraumatic stress disorder or schizophrenic behavior by their shorter time frame and the ability to self-correct with feedback.

Find Help

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