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Diseases & Conditions

Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality DisorderCausesMedicationsPreventionRisk FactorsSymptomsTreatment

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Borderline Personality Disorder or BPD is a type of personality dysfunction. The disorder displays itself via several different types of behaviors and moods all considered extreme or outside the norm.

Causes of Borderline Personality Disorder

While BDP is not completely understood there are some possible causes of the disease. Childhood abuse or trauma may be a possible cause. There appears to be a vital correlation between Borderline Personality Disorder and sexual abuse or physical abuse during childhood. Genetic links are another possibility as those displaying the disease usually have relatives also suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder. Other possible causes that have been considered include organic brain disease or environmental issues. Most professionals consider the disorder a combination of environment and genetics.

Medications for Borderline Personality Disorder

Medications for Borderline Personality Disorder focus on alleviating the emotional symptoms. Lithium and Depakote are popular options as they help to stabilize mood. In addition antidepressants such as Prozac, Zoloft, Ativan, Xanax and Nardil are often prescribed. Antipsychotics have also been found to reduce anxiety, paranoia, and anger. BDP patients often take Haldol, Risperdal, Seroquel, Zyprexa or Cozaril.

Prevention of Borderline Personality Disorder

There is no real understanding of how to prevent Borderline Personality Disorder. Cause is believed to be the result of environmental and genetic factors. One way to possibly prevent BDP is to remove a child from a potentially risky situation and place them in a loving and nurturing family. Children showing symptoms from birth would be best placed under psychiatric care at the earliest age possible. While it is extremely rare, there are situations where Borderline Personality Disorder can arise in even the most supportive family.

Risk Factors of Borderline Personality Disorder

There are several risk factors that may contribute to Borderline Personality Disorder including:

  • A family tree that contains mental illness
  • Growing up in a lower social and economic class.
  • Sexual, verbal, or physical abuse while growing up.
  • Childhood neglect.
  • Diagnosis of some type of behavioral disorder during childhood.
  • An unstable family life.
  • Death or divorce of the BDP individual's parents.

Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder

Observations of individuals with BDP suggest long bouts of negative tensions brought out due to a sense of failure or rejection. Those suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder may constantly switch between anger, anxiety and depression. There are four general categories of negative personality states:

  • Self Destruction-Suicide and self mutilation are quite prevalent amongst those with BDP.
  • Attenuated Feelings-BDP individuals are very sensitive and prone to react quite strongly to any perceived criticism.
  • Fragmentation or Identity Issues-Self worth can quickly change from feelings of importance to feelings of uselessness.
  • Sense of Victimization-BDP patients may also feel everyone is “out to get them” and develop strong feelings of persecution.

Although not as common, in some instances the BDP individual may have impulsive habits. It is not uncommon to see excessive gambling, alcoholism or drug abuse in Borderline Personality Disorder patients.

Treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder

The severity of the BDP can determine the treatment. Usually a combination of psychiatric, behavioral, and medical intervention will work best. The most effective treatment will include the family physician, a psychiatrist, a psychotherapist, family support and a social worker. Psychotherapy is the primary way to treat Borderline Personality Disorder. The function of the psychotherapist is to help the afflicted individual recognize and learn about the condition so some control can be gained over negative moods and behaviors. There are four basic types of psychotherapy.

  • Psychoeducation-As it implies, this therapy instructs the patient as well as their social network about BDP, ways to cope, additional treatments and skills for problem solving.
  • Dialectical behavior therapy-This process trains the patient to develop the proper behavioral skills to cope with stress and strong emotions. Dialectical behavior therapy also teaches the BDP individual to develop healthy social relationships.
  • Psychodynamic psychotherapy-This type of therapy works on the unconscious level to increase acknowledgment of behaviors and thoughts allowing the patient to develop more positive insight and motivations for coping with life.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy-Using behavioral and cognitive processes the BDP person comes to recognize their damaging behaviors and thoughts and learns to replace them with more positive actions and ideas.

In extreme cases hospitalization may be required. This is especially true for those displaying or harboring harmful or suicidal thoughts or behaviors. Medications are also a common means of treatment.