Are your emotions all over the place? Are you extraordinarily impulsive and extremely sensitive? Are you terrified continuously that people are going to leave you? Who am I? Do you often find yourself asking this question? Do you try to identify yourself with various random things? Or do you know someone who goes through similar things? Then this blog will be able to serve you with some clarity, and if you do not feel this way; even then it might help you in helping someone close to you struggling from this problem.
We all go through emotional ups and downs from time to time. After all, we are just humans! But we often do not understand the gap between healthy emotional switching and a problematic one. We might think that someone is too dramatic because they act too intensively to everything around them. Above mentioned experiences might be an indication of a severe personality disorder; known as Borderline Personality Disorder. In psychiatric settings, it accounts for about 15% of the population and about 50% of the patients with personality disorders.
A borderline personality disorder is defined as a personality disorder characterized by a long-standing pattern of instability in mood, interpersonal relationships, and self-image that is severe enough to cause extreme distress or interfere with social and occupational functioning. It is one of the ten personality disorders recognized by DSM V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).
In simpler words, a borderline personality disorder is a disorder of instability and impulsivity. For a person with BPD; their world is always moving up and down. BPD is unique in personality disorders because of the extent of unstable emotional state an individual goes through in it. An individual with BPD might feel intensely happy, sad and angry within the same hour.
The name borderline personality disorder is used for patients who are on a ‘borderline’ between neurosis and psychosis. Individuals with BPD are often recognized by their impulsivity and intensity. The mood disorders are also familiar with a borderline personality disorder, with 24% to 74% having major depression, and 4% to 20% having bipolar disorder. Up to 67% of the people with personality disorder are also diagnosed with at least one induced disorder. The exact cause of borderline personality disorder has not been confirmed yet. Still, the studies and researches suggest that the borderline personality disorder has a substantial genetic component, brain structure and function along with environmental factors.
Now let’s go through the symptoms of borderline personality disorder. There are nine traits of BPD; let’s explore them one by one:
Identity disturbance, i.e. a person suffering from BPD, does not have a rigid sense of self. Their sense of self is continually shifting. The individual suffering from BPD almost literally does not know who they are. In extreme cases, this might look like a case of multiple personality disorder.
Fear of abandonment; a person with BPD continually lives in the fear that people are going to leave them. This fear is not limited to romantic relationships only; it can be with a friend, family member or anyone close to the individual. This fear of abandonment can be real as well as entirely imaginary, i.e. perceived abandonment
Unstable and really intense interpersonal relationships: Again, it is not limited to intimate relationships, but it can be any close relationships. These kinds of relationships are very passionate at the beginning. After some time, it might feel like the worst thing to the person suffering from BPD. Almost every relationship a person with BPD has been characterized by the same intensity and instability.
Impulsivity; it is a condition which makes an individual incapable of emotional and behavioural self-control that the individual acts out or behaves without thinking at the moment.
Self-harm: It is one of the dangerous traits of BPD. An individual with BPD is prone to suicide even if they do not intend to commit suicide. A person with BPD tends to harm themselves in their moments of weakness or extremities, which might lead to severe consequences.
Affective instability: It merely means that the mood of the person, suffering from BPD, is all over the place. So there are frequent and intense mood swings. The fluctuation of mood happens in a brief period. It’s like the emotions and feelings of the individual take over them. They are incapable of inhibiting those feelings; instead, they keep acting on them.
Feeling of emptiness: A person with BPD often feels like there’s a hole inside of them. There is a constant feeling of emptiness. They try random, sometimes dangerous or harmful things to feel whole again.
Bursts of anger: Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger is another trait of BPD. People with BPD may have frequent displays of temper, constant anger or recurrent physical fights.
Paranoid or dissociative symptoms: People with BPD experience transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative under difficult, stressful situations. They might feel that the whole world is out there to get them.
There is another critical point here. If a person has six or more than six traits mentioned above; only then they have a borderline personality disorder. Anyone with less than six of the above traits and symptoms cannot be diagnosed with a borderline personality disorder. However, the traits must be long-standing (pervasive), and there must be no better explanation for them, e.g. physical illness, a different mental illness or substance misuse.
If you feel that your loved ones or you are suffering from a bipolar personality disorder, then take a moment and breathe. Relax! I want to tell you that it is very much possible to successfully manage borderline personality disorder with the right help. The first step to the road of recovery in the realm of mental health is to reach out for help, so do not hesitate to reach out.