Thursday, January 21, 2010

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

The DSM-IV, which is the manual used to diagnose all mental disorders, describes Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) as including at least five of the following

  • Worry about abandonment and going to extremes to keep someone from leaving
  • Unstable, stormy relationships with major shifts in thinking about another person, such as believing someone is a loyal friend to believing the person is untrustworthy or hurtful
  • Unstable self-image, shifting from feeling confident about who you are to feeling like you don't even exist
  • Self-damaging, impulsive behaviors, such a substance abuse, binge-eating, reckless spending, or other behaviors that lead to serious consequences
  • Frequent suicidal thoughts, threats, attempts, or self-hurting behaviors such as cutting.
  • Rapidly changing intense moods
  • Feelings of emptiness
  • Intense anger that may lead to physical fights or destruction of property
  • During times of stress, he or she may believe others are intentionally trying to make life difficult for them; at other times they may feel as if they are losing touch with reality

BPD is estimated to affect 2-3% of the general population, but affects 11% of patients seen in outpatient clinics, and as many as 20% of hospitalized psychiatric patients.

About 8-10% of people with this disorder die by suicide.

It is believed that BPD may be the result of a combination of factors, including a biologic or genetic vulnerability that interacts with stressful events in the early family environment.

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