Happy Wednesday! Can anyone else not quite believe we’re into the last week of January? It’s been a long month, and doesn’t look set to change any time soon. Between cold weather, dark nights, and constant lockdowns that never seem to end, it’s been hard. But the end is in sight, and so to end the month, I wanted to share an important guest post with you all. Payton has kindly submitted a guest post all about BPD, or Borderline Personality Disorder.
Borderline personality disorder, or BPD, is one of the more heavily stigmatized mental illnesses out there. Since getting diagnosed with BPD a little over a year ago, I’ve come to realize that this illness sits in-between an odd dichotomy of people either having no idea what Borderline Personality Disorder is, or if they do, having a not-so-great perception of it.
So, I decided to scour Google to see what some of the most frequently asked questions people have about BPD. Hopefully I can debunk some myths and answer some questions to help bring more awareness to this disorder.
A lot of these questions are repeats or are questions that add anything to this post. But I will answer the ones I have seen around a lot and that I believe add value.
What is BPD?
BPD is classified as a cluster B personality disorder characterized by unstable moods, behavior and relationships. It affects 1.4% of the U.S population, and is often caused by environmental factors in childhood, or possible biological or genetic links.
What is BPD like?
Since this illness is in the brain, it can be hard to gage how someone may feel. And of course, feelings and emotions are subjective. But I stumbled across a Wikipedia page that really puts the emotions of having BPD into words..
If you look up “psychological pain” on Wikipedia, there’s a whole section dedicated to BPD. It notes that “BPD is believed to be the one psychiatric disorder that produces the most intense emotional pain, agony, and destress.”
BPD also has one, if not, the highest rates of suicide, with 75% of those with Borderline Personality Disorder attempting suicide at least once, and up to 10% of people with BPD who commit suicide.
Although, it is hard for someone with BPD to fully express the realities of this illness, I believe that these are a close example.
What are the symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder?
There are nine symptoms of BPD as noted in the DSM. Side note: Not everyone with Borderline Personality Disorder has all nine symptoms. But there must be at least 5 present for the diagnosis.
- Fear of abandonment
- Unstable relationships
- Unclear or shifting self-image
- Impulsive, self-destructive behaviors
- Recurrent suicidal or self-harm behavior
- Extreme emotional swings
- Chronic feelings of emptiness
- Inappropriate, intense anger
- Transient, stress-related paranoid thoughts or severe dissociative symptoms
What is the treatment for BPD?
One of the most common therapies for BPD is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. It was created by Dr. Marsha Linehan, a psychologist who also had BPD, to help treat patients experiencing this disorder.
Medication is another treatment option. Although, there is no medication made specifically for Borderline Personality Disorder, medications such as mood stabilizers can help alleviate certain symptoms.
What is BPD splitting?
People with BPD tend to see things in black-or-white, or all-or-nothing. This is called splitting. For example, someone with BPD might think that you’re the best person ever, but then “split” and think of you as the exact opposite. It’s not fun for either party. That’s why tumultuous relationships are so common with this disorder.
How serious is BPD?
Borderline Personality Disorder is a personality disorder, and like other personality disorders, it is pervasive and lifelong. Adding to the statistics mentioned in question #2, people with BPD make up 10% of patients receiving outside psychiatric care, and 20% of those who have been hospitalized. But BPD can successfully be treated and those with BPD can see an improvement in their symptoms.
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How common is Borderline Personality Disorder?
Going back to the first question, BPD affects 1.4% of the U.S population, compared to 18.1% for a common mental illness like anxiety. Women make up roughly 75% of this diagnosis, although this may be due to systemic sexism within the mental health field since BPD is viewed as a women’s disorder. This possibly allows for men to be un- or misdiagnosed and women over-diagnosed.
How is BPD diagnosed?
BPD is diagnosed like any other mental illness, either through a psychologist or psychiatrist. Although, given how stigmatized this disorder is, a lot of mental health workers refuse to work with patients with BPD, either because they don’t have the expertise, or they think it’s too difficult. In my experience, professionals are even hesitant about giving out a diagnosis due to this stigma. All this allows many to go undiagnosed, or have trouble finding treatment.
How is BPD different than Bipolar Disorder?
People often confuse the two, even so much that their acronyms get mixed up. I think this is because the lay person associates mood swings with bipolar disorder, even though mood swings can be present in a lot of different mental illnesses. But a huge difference is that BPD is a personality disorder, and bipolar disorder is a mood disorder, so they developed in different ways. There are different types of bipolar disorder, but the general idea is that there are two phases: mania and depression, and between those there is a state of equilibrium. Since BPD is a personality disorder, the disorder is embedded into one’s self, so the symptoms remain present 24/7. I don’t have bipolar disorder, so I don’t feel comfortable speaking on it any further, so here is an article that explains it in more detail.
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A Final Note
Hopefully this post has answered or debunked some things about BPD. Learning more about mental illness is a great way to combat stigma and foster more empathy for those who deal with it. If you have any further questions, feel free to ask them below.