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Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Updated: July 23, 2022

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), also known as Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD) is one of the most recognised personality disorders.  Those affected tend to hold a distorted image of themselves, experience mood swings, and relationship problems, and are at increased risk of suicide

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What Is BPD?

Borderline Personality Disorder is one of several disorders of personality and is thought to impact 1% of people in the UK, with more prevalence in females.  People with personality disorders will generally think, feel, perceive, and relate to others in ways that differ from the average person.  In the case of BPD, individuals can experience significant difficulties with psychological, social, and occupational areas of life, all of which diminish life quality.

 

This is because individuals feel instability in mood and experience feelings of emptiness, reckless impulsivity, fears of abandonment, depression, anger, suspicion, and fluctuations between confidence and despair.  They will often have identity issues, exhibit risky behaviour, and experience unstable relationships.  Some people will also experience psychosis, for example, hallucinations or delusions.  All of this causes significant impairment with day to day functioning and although there is heightened risk of self-harm and suicide, with help, people can learn ways to manage and reduce symptoms.

What Are The Symptoms?

Distorted Cognitive Patterns

People who experience BPD can often perceive and think in ways that are distorted.  This can be very unpleasant and disturbing for them.

Emotional Instability

In psychological terms this is known as affective dysregulation.  Those impacted often experience a whole host of irrational and destabilising emotions about themselves and others’ intentions toward them, and may threaten suicide.

Impulsivity

Individuals can act impulsively and this can lead to reckless and dangerous behaviour.  Indeed, between 60-70% of the prison population are thought to have BPD.  Impulsivity may also place sufferers at heightened risk of self-harm, including suicide.

Relational Problems

People who experience BPD can have intense relationships, which are often unstable.

What Causes BPD?

There is no known cause of BPD, but it is thought that both genetics and environment play a role in its development.  For example, childhood trauma or neglect are thought to be risk factors.

Although there is no gene for BPD, studies have shown that certain inherited genes can make someone more vulnerable.

Impairment with brain chemicals, particularly the neurotransmitter serotonin which regulates mood, is a risk factor.

Brain studies reveal that in people with BPD, the amygdala, hippocampus, and orbitofrontal cortex are smaller or show unusual activity level.  These brain areas regulate emotions and mood, behaviour and self-control, and decision making and planning, respectively.  Early upbringing impacts the brain development of these areas.

Early relationships impact how individuals perceive themselves, their world, and others.  When unresolved feelings like distress, anger, and fear persist, these can lead to cognitive distortions as an adult.  For example, behaving like you’re not an adult, expecting others to either parent or bully you, or idealising others.

Other environmental risk factors that people with BPD seem to have in common include: neglect by one or both parents, experiencing distress or fear for prolonged periods as a child, growing up around someone who had a serious mental health condition (for example, BPD, or addiction), or having experienced physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.

How Phinity Therapy Can Help

Treatment for BPD is longer term and often the frequency of sessions can be higher (for example, two sessions a week if necessary).

Our therapists will offer you a comprehensive psychological assessment in order to understand your life and how it and you are impacted by BPD.

Therapy can facilitate your ability to gain a sense of control over your thoughts and feelings by helping you to better understand them.  This can lead to improved ability around problem solving and changes in behaviour and overall attitude.

Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) is a psychotherapy that is specifically tailored for the treatment of BPD.  This form of therapy aims to help validate emotions and facilitate a more flexible, rather than rigid thinking style, toward helpful behavioural change.

Other therapies that are useful for treating BPD are shown below, however there is no evidence to show that any one therapy is better than another, and therefore, recommendations will be based on your needs.

What Causes BPD? How Phinity Therapy Can Help

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