Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental health disorder. People with BPD may often have dramatic, emotional, erratic, and attention-seeking moods. This behavior is severe enough to cause problems with family and work life, long-term planning, and sense of self.
The causes of BPD are not fully understood. It is likely due to a mix of genes and life events and environment. Some types of gene may allow changes in the brain that cause mental health issue. Life experiences and types of stress may increase the risk of thee changes happening.
Central Nervous System—Brain
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BPD is more common in those with:
BPD can affect anyone. It is usually diagnosed in adolescents and young adults. People with BPD may have:
People with BPD tend to be extremely sensitive to rejection. They may react with anger and be upset at even mild separation from friends or family. Symptoms often become severe when people with BPD feel lonely or during times of stress.
The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A mental health screening test will be done. It will ask about mood, outlook, and effects on day to day life. This will help the doctor assess mental health concerns. A physical exam and tests may be done. It will help to rule out other medical conditions that can cause similar problems. A psychiatrist may make the diagnosis. There is not test for BPD. Instead the doctor will look at symptoms over a long period of time to see which mental health issues may be present.
Psychotherapy can help to understand and manage BPD. The goal of therapy is to:
Therapy may be one on one or include family therapy. The exact type of therapy will be based on each person's needs. Some types of therapy used with BPD are:
Medicine is not a main part of BPD treatment. It may be used to treat severe symptoms or other mental health issues such as depression.
The cause of BPD is not clear so there are no steps for prevention.
National Association for Borderline Personality Disorder
Mental Health America
Borderline Personality Disorder
Canadian Psychological Association
Borderline personality disorder. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/borderline-personality-disorder. Accessed February 1, 2020.
Borderline personality disorder. National Mental Health Association website. Available at: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/borderline-personality-disorder/index.shtml. Accessed February 1, 2020.
Kaess M, Brunner R, Chanen A. Borderline personality disorder in adolescence. Pediatrics. 2014 Oct;134(4):782-93.
National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) clinical practice guideline on management of borderline personality disorder. Available at: https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/about-us/publications/clinical-practice-guideline-borderline-personality-disorder. Accessed February 1, 2020.
Last reviewed February 2020 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Adrian Preda, MD
Last Updated: 2/1/2020