Borderline Personality Disorder

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Mental illness has had a spotlight in American culture for years, but only now are people wondering what borderline personality disorder and other disorders are and how they affect the population. This is a great question, as many people may meet the criteria for BPD and not even realize it. The information below will help those who are seeking more information about the disorder.


The National Institute of Mental Health defines a borderline personality disorder as a mental illness that affects an individual’s moods and behaviour. It is often characterized by an individual’s inability to contain impulses and irrational behaviour may cause problems in relationships, and can even, in some acute cases, lead to self-harm or thoughts of suicide. Mood patterns are a major indicator of whether or not an individual has BPD. Mood patterns can last for as little as two hours or may last for several days.

Signs and Symptoms

BPD can often be confused with other mental illnesses. However, some signs may point an individual to seeking help. Some of these include self-destructive behaviour such as substance abuse or reckless driving, rollercoaster relationships in which the individual may demonize or idolize a particular person in patterns that make little sense, self-harming such as cutting, threats of suicide, anger management problems, and more. Not all of the symptoms will be exhibited by every individual; for that reason, only a medical diagnosis is applicable for treatment.


Mental health professionals who have a license can diagnosis individuals who may have BPD. Because the mental disorder is often concurrent with other mental disorders, it is imperative that an individual visit a licensed mental health professional to ensure the best treatment outcome possible. Diagnoses are delivered by a process that includes a comprehensive interview, a medical exam, and a discussion with the individual about their family medical and mental history. A medical diagnosis can also lead an individual to be diagnosed with other mental disorders, enabling them to seek out the appropriate treatment.


Treatment for BPD patients can vary depending on the needs of the individual; this can include everything from medication to hospitalization, depending on the severity of the disorder. However, there is a form of therapy that seems to help more than any other stand-alone method. This is called dialectical behaviour therapy, a form of therapy that was developed by Marsha Linehan, PhD, ABPP. It utilizes both individual psychotherapy and group skills training classes. The idea is to provide an individual with both personalized cares as well as provide them with the skills needed to control their emotions and help them move forward positively.


There are more than 3 million reported cases of BPD in America every year; it is thought that those who are most affected are between the ages of 14 and 60. Research has shown that about 1.6 percent of the country’s population has BPD; 75 percent of those diagnosed are women. It has also been found that 40 percent of people diagnosed with BPD have been misdiagnosed in the past. The current prognosis for BPD is more heartening: studies have shown that half of those diagnosed with BPD will not meet the criteria for diagnosis within two years, with the number jumping to 88 percent not meeting the criteria in ten years.

BPD is more common in America than most people think, which is why getting a diagnosis early is a great way to stop the mental disorder from taking hold of a person’s life. The American Psychological Association reports that those who stick with treatment are cured of the disorder in less than five years. This short primer on borderline personality disorder is not meant to cover everything about the disorder, but it should serve as an introduction to one of the most common mental disorders in the country.