Borderline personality disorder: what is it and how can be treated

Borderline personality disorder

Borderline personality disorder is characterized by emotional instability, difficulties in maintaining interpersonal relationships, self-harm, and suicidal behavior. A person with borderline syndrome always has a feeling of fear of abandonment, is emotionally fragile, impulsive and has frequent mood swings that can have a negative impact on family or couple relationships. Difficult management of emotional states, unstable relationships and low self-esteem are the main symptoms of borderline syndrome. Personality disorders are psychological disorders and occur when a person encounters problems of correct perception of the environment. Borderline disorder is characterized by marked instability of behavior and interpersonal relationships.

What causes the borderline personality disorder?

The cause of this personality disorder is unknown, but scientists suspect that certain genetic factors, brain structure, and social, cultural, and environmental factors may be to blame.

Factors that increase the risk of borderline disorder include:

  • Family history – people who have a close relative diagnosed with this disorder have an increased risk of developing, in turn, this mental problem.
  • Brain Structure – Studies have shown that there are certain structural and functional changes in the brains of patients suffering from borderline disorder. The changes are concentrated especially in the area that controls impulses and regulates emotions. It is not known, however, whether these changes are the ones that cause the disease or whether the borderline disorder causes these changes.
  • Cultural, social and environmental factors – in general, patients with borderline disorder have experienced traumatic events, such as abandonment or abuse. Also, some patients have been exposed to dysfunctional relationships or major conflicts.

But there are also situations in which people who are not in these risk categories end up developing borderline personality disorder.


Borderline personality disorder affects self-esteem, behavior and relationships with others. Among the most common manifestations of borderline syndrome are:

  1. The permanent, intense and unjustified fear of abandonment – often the person dramatizes, makes scenes, threatens to commit suicide if the partner leaves
  2. Difficult couple relationships, characterized by the idealization of the partner, followed by a sudden change of mood, which can go so far as to accuse him of not being attentive or loving enough
  3. Sudden changes in emotional state, which can range from overestimated self-esteem and denial of all the qualities of the person in question, sometimes even denying their own existence, the feeling that he does not know who he is and what he has achieved in life, frequent change of jobs, partners , goals in life, religion or even sexual identity
  4. Episodes of paranoia or loss of contact with reality for a few minutes to a few hours that are closely related to stressful events
  5. Impulsive or dangerous behavior, which can be manifested by compulsive eating, speeding, gambling, shoplifting, unprotected sex with strangers, drug or alcohol use, unjustified quitting at work, ending a relationship without a specific reason
  6. Suicidal tendencies or self-harm (cuts or self-harm), often in response to fear of abandonment
  7. Mood swings, which include happiness, irritability, shame, or severe anxiety
  8. The feeling of inner emptiness and emptiness of soul, which is compensated by sex, drug or alcohol abuse, overeating
  9. Intense anger, sarcasm, or violent physical or mental behavior toward others

Diagnosis and treatment of borderline disorder

As with bipolar disorder, specialized medical help is the first step in treating borderline personality disorder. The diagnosis is made by the psychiatrist, who is also the one who establishes the necessary medication and makes periodic evaluations. Diagnosis involves several sessions, in which the doctor thoroughly investigates the patient’s medical history and nuances the symptoms very well, so as to reduce the risk – high – of error. Unfortunately, quite often, borderline disorder is underdiagnosed or misdiagnosed.

Once diagnosed, borderline disorder necessarily involves psychotherapy, which is, incidentally, the main treatment in this case. The recommended therapies are:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy. It helps to change unhealthy beliefs, behaviors and perceptions about oneself and others. Through this type of therapy, the borderline person learns to develop correct, healthy methods of reacting to states of anxiety, upset or insecurity.
  • Dialectical-behavioral therapy. Through it, the person learns how to become aware of their own thoughts, behaviors and how to respond to them in a healthy way. This type of therapy reduces abusive behaviors, self-harm, depression, alcohol abuse and other substances.
  • Scheme-centered therapy. It is based on the idea that borderline disorder comes from a distorted and dysfunctional self-image, thus focusing on reconstructing the way the person perceives himself.




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