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Borderline Personality Disorder

Symptoms and Treatments

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What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), borderline personality disorder is:

"a serious mental illness characterized by pervasive instability in moods, interpersonal relationships, self-image, and behavior. This instability often disrupts family and work life, long-term planning, and the individual's sense of self-identity."

Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder

Individuals with borderline personality disorder:

  • Experience a pervasive pattern of unstable interpersonal relationships and have difficulties with moods and self-image. Impulsiveness is also extremely common.

  • Often have intense episodes of anxiety, depression and irritability lasting from a few hours to several days.

  • May direct anger outward in the form of physical aggression, but may also engage in self-destructive behaviors such as drug abuse, eating disorders or suicidal gestures. These behaviors are often intended to manipulate others.

  • Usually have poor self-identity that leads to overly intense relationships with others. These interactions are generally filled with conflict, and the individual with borderline personality will vacillate between idealizing other people and undervaluing them.

  • Tend to become angry and frustrated when other people fail to meet unrealistic expectations.

Treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder

  • Therapy is often effective in many patients, especially treatment that utilizes cognitive-behavioral approaches. The goal of the therapist is to help the client learn to be more aware of other people’s perspectives.

  • Psychiatric drugs such as antidepressants are often effective, both alone and in combination with psychotherapy. Antipsychotic medications are sometimes used in cases involving distorted thinking patterns.
Further Reading:
Overview of Personality Disorders


Source: (2001) Borderline Personality Disorder: Raising Questions, Finding Answers. National Institute of Mental Health

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