What Is Borderline Personality Disorder?

What Is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental health disorder that severely affects individuals’ capability to control their emotions. BPD is characterized by emotional instability, impulsivity, identity diffusion, and interpersonal dysfunction. Rejection and loss can trigger impulsive, suicidal, self-destructive behavior, emotional responsiveness, and angry outbursts.

The lack of emotional control can increase impulsivity, influence how people feel about themselves, and negatively impact their interpersonal relationships. Effective treatments and coping skills are available to manage the symptoms of BPD.

How Does Borderline Personality Disorder Impact Interpersonal Relationships

Individuals who struggle with BPD often experience a significant impact on their relationships with family, friends, significant others, colleagues, or co-workers due to sensitivity to rejection, changes in plans, or feelings of being insulted. These misrepresentations in the way of thinking can create feelings of isolation, loneliness, and helplessness.

Many individuals with borderline personality disorder also experience extreme and unbalanced relationships with others as a part of the condition. Their relationships fluctuate between good and bad, and they experience conflicting feelings when connecting to the world or other individuals.

The black and white approach to how people with borderline personality disorder think can overflow into relationships, including family, friends, romantic, school, or work associations with loved ones, colleagues, professors, instructors, or supervisors.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V) defines interpersonal problems of the disorder as “a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.”

Individuals with BPD may idealize a person or situation and jump into relationships without hesitation. Suppose a conflict occurs to diminish the idealization, such as criticism from a colleague, an argument with a friend, or a low score on a test. In that case, it can cause the person to shift from the idealized perspective to a devaluation viewpoint.

In reacting to a devaluation, the sensitivity causes overreaction, and the individual may explode with anger, become aggressive, or give up. Devaluation can cause shattered friendships, failed classes, or loss of employment. Once seen as ideal, the person, relationship, or job quickly becomes a devastating situation with substantial consequences.

How Is Borderline Personality Disorder Treated?

Borderline personality disorder does not have to be a life sentence. Although there is no cure, effective treatment methods and coping skills are available to help those with BPD manage the condition.

Significant development has been made toward understanding and treating BPD. Both psychotherapy and medication are treatment options that have proved to be effective. Particular therapies have the potential to facilitate the interpersonal aspects of BPD, such as dialectal behavior therapy and mentalization therapy.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder

Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is a modified cognitive-behavioral therapy approach that involves talk therapy to help clients understand and manage their thoughts, moods, behaviors, and interpersonal relationships.

DBT is especially useful when treating borderline personality disorder because it seeks to address symptoms of BPD by replacing maladaptive behaviors with healthier coping skills, including mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotion regulation, and distress tolerance.

Mentalization-Based Therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder

Clients with BPD display reduced mentalizing capabilities, which means they cannot recognize their mental state separate from their actions—the inability to connect the two results in complications with emotional regulation and problems managing impulsivity.

Mentalization-based therapy (MBT) is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on the ability to acknowledge and identify thoughts, feelings, and desires and determine how they are associated with behavior. MBT is effective with BPD due to its focus on improving emotional regulation and mentalization.

How Can Loved Ones Help?

Individuals with BPD experience symptoms that cause them to feel empty, dissociated from themselves, and uncertain about how they see themselves.

Having a family member or loved one with BPD can be demanding. Family members may inadvertently act in ways that can intensify their loved one’s symptoms.

Here are some ways to help a family member or friend with the BPD:

  • Take time to understand the disorder so you know what your friend or relative is experiencing.
  • Be patient and try not to argue with them when emotions are high. Waiting for the appropriate time when both of you are calm will work best.
  • Provide emotional support, understanding, patience, and reassurance. Change can be challenging to individuals with borderline personality disorder, but remind them to have hope.
  • Don't judge them. Listen to them without telling them that they're exaggerating or should not feel like they do. You may not understand why they feel like this; regardless of whether you think it's reasonable, it is still how they think, and it's important to acknowledge it.
  • Make sure to encourage them to ask about family therapy.
  • Find counseling for yourself, but don’t see the same counselor your relative is seeing.

Seeking help for mental health disorders is essential to living your best life. Borderline Personality Disorder is manageable with the appropriate coping skills. If you or a loved one want to begin your road to a better future, we want to help. Crownview Co-Occurring Institute in Oceanside, CA, offers psychiatric treatment for many levels of mental health disorders. Our customized approach guarantees that each client receives quality care with successful results. CCI has treatment facilities that provide evidence-based, compassionate care with licensed professionals. Let CCI help you form a firm foundation for a successful long-term recovery. Call (760) 477-4754 today to learn about our effective treatment programs. If you are not in the California area and need assistance, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) offers the Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator to search for mental health services closer to you.