Signs & Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder
The types and severity of BPD symptoms may differ from person to person because people have different predispositions and life histories, and symptoms can fluctuate over time.
Common symptoms include:
- intense but short-lived bouts of anger, depression or anxiety
- emptiness associated with loneliness and neediness
- paranoid thoughts and dissociative states in which the mind or psyche “shuts off” painful thoughts or feelings
- self-image that can change depending on whom the person is with
- impulsive and harmful behaviours such as substance abuse, overeating, gambling or high-risk sexual behaviours
- non-suicidal self-injury such as cutting, burning with a cigarette or overdose that can bring relief from intense emotional pain (onset usually in early adolescence); up to 75 per cent of people with BPD self-injure one or more times
- suicide (about 10 per cent of people with BPD take their own lives)
- intense fear of being alone or of being abandoned, agitation with even brief separation from family, friends or therapist (because of difficulty to feel emotionally connected to someone who is not there)
- impulsive and emotionally volatile behaviours that may lead to the very abandonment and alienation that the person fears
- volatile and stormy interpersonal relationships with attitudes to others that can shift from idealization to anger and dislike (a result of black and white thinking that perceives people as all good or all bad).
Cause & risk factors of Borderline Personality
Our current understanding is that a person’s genetic
inheritance, biology and environmental experiences all contribute to the
development of BPD. A person is born with certain personality or temperamental
characteristics because of the way his or her brain is “wired,” and these
characteristics are further shaped by environmental experiences—and possibly by
cultural experiences—as the person grows up.
Researchers have found differences in certain areas of the
brain that might explain impulsive behaviour, emotional instability and the way
people perceive events. As well, twin and family history studies have shown a
genetic influence, with higher rates of BPD and/or other related mental health
disorders among close family members.
Environmental factors that may contribute to the development
of BPD in vulnerable individuals include separation, neglect, abuse or other
traumatic childhood events. However, families that provide a nurturing and
caring environment may still have children who develop BPD, while children who
experience appalling childhoods do not necessarily develop BPD.
Though histories of physical and sexual abuse are reported to
be high among those with BPD, many other experiences can play a role for a
child who is already emotionally vulnerable.
Adapted from Borderline Personality Disorder: An Information Guide © 2009 Centre for Addiction and Mental Health