The American Psychiatric Association (APA) defines a personality disorder as “a way of thinking, feeling and behaving that deviates from the expectations of the culture, causes distress or problems functioning, and lasts over time.”
More specifically, the APA characterizes borderline personality disorder (BPD) by the following traits:
- intense fear of abandonment
- pattern of unstable, intense relationships
- rapid changes in self-identity and self-image
- impulsive and risky behavior (gambling, reckless driving, unsafe sex, etc.)
- suicidal threats/behavior or self-harm (often in response to fear of separation or rejection)
- mood swings (can include intense happiness, irritability, shame or anxiety)
- pervasive feelings of emptiness
- inappropriate, intense bouts of anger
- paranoia or dissociation that passes quickly
Approximately 1.4 percent of U.S. adults have BPD. Individuals can be diagnosed with BPD as early as age 12 (if symptoms have lasted at least one year), but most people are diagnosed during late adolescence or early adulthood.
The exact cause of BPD isn’t fully understood, but scientists believe it’s likely a combination of factors, including:
- Genetics—people who have a family member with BPD are at higher risk for developing the disorder
- Environmental influences—such as trauma, abuse and/or neglect
- Brain abnormalities—structural and functional changes in the brain
Although there is no definitive cure for BPD, proper treatment can lead to remission and a vastly improved quality of life. Effective therapy approaches might include:
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy, which teaches skills to tolerate distress, manage emotions and improve relationships.
- Systems Training for Emotional Predictability and Problem-Solving, which is a 20-week, skills-based program delivered in a group setting.
- Transference-Focused Psychotherapy, which is a manualized, psychodynamic treatment that helps develop more stable and realistic experiences of self.
- Schema Therapy, which focuses on identifying and changing deeply-rooted patterns of thinking and behavior that are linked to an individual’s view of self and the world.
No medication has been approved by the FDA to treat BPD. However, medications can be prescribed to treat conditions that commonly co-occur with BPD, such as depression and anxiety.
It is also important to note the necessity of a strong relationship between therapist and client, which is one of the key elements for effective BPD treatment.
If you’re in need of BPD treatment, contact Travco Behavioral Health today!