Have you ever met a person with Borderline Personality Disorder? How many people are affected by it? What is everyday life like for these people? I did some research.

A recent study on the prevalence of mental health disorders in the U.S. found that about 1.6 percent of the population has BPD. Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a neurological disease that is caused due to a linkage on the ninth chromosome characterized by unstable moods, behaviors and relationships. Also known as Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD), this illness is a serious mental health condition. It affects both males and females of any age. It is hard to be diagnosed in children, but they are also affected by it.

The term ‘borderline personality’ was proposed in the United States by Adolph Stern in 1938. Roy Grinker did the first research on BPD in 1968, followed by John Gunderson and Marsha Linehan in 1980 and 1993 respectively. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, BPD is more common than schizophrenia (hallucinations and abnormal speech) and bipolar disorder (alternate phases of elevated mood and intense sadness). 

“A friend of mine, who I thought was my BFF, wanted to sit next to another girl in class next. When she told me that, I threw myself on the ground and cried my heart out as I thought she hated me. In that moment, I hated her with my very soul. I was crying for days because of that.” This is what one person diagnosed with BPD had to say. People with BPD are very emotionally unstable and tend to get hurt by the smallest of things. They have abandonment and trust issues. They are really insecure regarding their close ones. Extreme cases of people suffering from BPD also have suicidal tendencies.

This is what an article in Psychology Today had to say about family life for people with BPD- “BPD can occur in “normal” families, although, in today’s world, what’s “normal” may be a matter of debate. But statistics and clinical analyses indicate that many BPD cases develop in families with some degree of “abnormality,” dysfunction, or psycho-social-structural challenges—whether real or simply perceived by the one afflicted.”

Common symptoms of BPD are self harming behavior, repeating suicidal thoughts, chronic feelings of loneliness, anger problems, unstable and unhealthy relationships, etc. Borderline Personality Disorder is not the best name for this disease as per the symptoms but no other name currently exists. The symptoms of this disease can vary a lot depending on the person’s situation. A lot of other disorders like anxiety disorder, depression, and bipolar disorder can co-occur along with BPD. This is because their symptoms are very similar. A large number of men, women and children are victims of this disorder. Upbringing plays a huge role in BPD. Other things that affect the degree of the BPD are drug addiction and medicine overdose. Genetics is another factor that comes into play. There are higher chances of a person getting BPD if the disease runs in his/her family. There is evidence of BPD genes on chromosomes 1, 4, 9, 18. Whereas, the strongest linkage was found on chromosome number 9.

BPD can be treated in several ways like therapy and medication. The initial course of treatment includes talk therapy where the patient is allowed to take 2-3 sessions or more with a mental health counsellor. In cases like these, the patient is required to fully trust their therapist in order to gain the best treatment. There are different kinds of therapy given based on Cognitive behavioral therapy, anger management therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, transference focused psychotherapy, and schema therapy (schema meaning: lifelong behavioral patterns). Medication is given in extreme cases. The focus of the kind of drugs remains on antianxiety agents, antipsychotic agents and mood stabilizers. These drugs mainly help improve mood, anxiety, depression, anger and irritability. Antipsychotic agents are used in other two closely related diseases which are Bipolar disorder and Schizophrenia. Whereas the doses of antipsychotic agents in these disorders are low as compared to the dosage in BPD. 

Brain areas involved in emotional responses become overactive in BPD patients. They start to see most situations in a negative manner. It becomes hard for them to see situations as positive or opportunistic. These people have structural or functional changes in various parts of their brain. BPD can be called a fatal illness that is characterized by demented emotional behavior. Borderline Personality Disorder dominates in many cases involving detainees. About 75 percent of the people diagnosed with BPD are women. About 70% of the people with BPD have attempted to suicide at least once in their lifetime. Among all personality disorders, BPD is the most associated with suicide.

The graph below compares any kind of Post Trauma Stress Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder. It is seen from the graph that PTSD is not as severe as BPD, BPD has most of the symptoms to a severity. This graph is the result of an experiment conducted on 280 females who were child abuse survivors. Post Trauma Stress Disorder refers to the difficulty and stress a person goes through after witnessing or experiencing a horrifying incident. 

May is mental health awareness month. One in four people suffer from a mental illness. Let’s be kind to each other. 🙂

Schuster, Sarah. “19 Signs You Grew Up With Borderline Personality Disorder.” The Mighty, themighty.com/2016/12/how-do-you-know-if-you-have-borderline-personality-disorder/.

“Borderline Personality Afflicts All Races and Both Genders.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/black-womens-health-and-happiness/201302/borderline-personality-afflicts-all-races-and-both-gen.

National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health (UK). “BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER.” Borderline Personality Disorder: Treatment and Management., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Jan. 1970, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK55415/.

“Borderline Personality Disorder.” National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/borderline-personality-disorder/index.shtml#part_145387.

Salters-Pedneault, Kristalyn, and Steven Gans. “How Prevalent Is Borderline Personality Disorder?” Verywell Mind, http://www.verywellmind.com/borderline-personality-disorder-statistics-425481.