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What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

The term borderline personality disorder (BPD) suggests the image of a person who is on the edge or border of something. During the first sixty years of the twentieth century, the border in borderline was located between neurosis and insanity (officially called schizophrenia). In fact, the diagnostic term that preceded the use of borderline personality disorder was pseudoneurotic schizophrenia. This term was used because, at that time, all psychiatric problems were viewed as falling along a single continuum that ranged from neurotic, at one end, to psychotic (another term for insane), at the other. Today, most professionals have abandoned this single-continuum concept of behavioral health problems. We now know that borderline personality disorder does not progress to schizophrenia or psychosis. It is an independent, albeit complex, disorder with its own origins and prognosis.

The official diagnostic criteria of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV 1994) require that five or more of the following be present before the diagnosis of BPD can be made (these are a paraphrased version of the actual criteria)”

  1. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
  2. A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships
  3. Unstable sense of self and identity
  4. Impulsive actions that are ultimately self-damaging such as drug abuse, excessive spending, reckless driving, or unsafe sex
  5. Recurrent suicidal actions, threats, thoughts, or self-injury behaviors (such as cutting)
  6. Unstable, intense moods or emotions that can be triggered by events and may last hours or days
  7. Chronic feelings of emptiness, boredom, or loneliness
  8. Inappropriate or intense anger that is difficult to control
  9. Temporary, stress-triggered paranoid ideas (“I feel threatened by others”) or severe dissociative symptoms (“I don’t feel real”)

Not everyone who has BPD experiences all of these symptoms. Nor do they experience the symptoms they do have all of the time. Most people with BPD find that their symptoms change based on who they are with and the environmental demands they face. As their stress level increases, they often find that the intensity and frequency of their BPD thoughts, feelings, and behavior also increase.

Approximately 2 to 4 percent of adults have a clinically significant degree of BPD . This means that at least six million people nationwide have BPD. It is generally thought that females outnumber males by four to one in prevalence of BPD. In our practice, however, we see about equal numbers of each. I believe that male BPD is often underdiagnosed.

BlueSky Behavioral Health offers individualized treatment programs for mental health disorders such as BPD. Our supportive and licensed clinical staff can make a difference in your life. Learn how to live life well - contact our facility today.