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Overview

Borderline personality disorder is a mental health condition that affects the way one thinks and feels about themselves and others which causes problems with everyday functioning. The condition is characterized by a distorted self-image, intense and unstable relationships, impulsiveness, and extreme emotions.

The condition usually begins early in adulthood with it getting worse in young adulthood and then gradually improving with age.

Further symptoms and signs of borderline personality disorder include:

  • An intense fear of abandonment - an extreme measure of this is going out of one's way to avoid rejection or real or even imagined separation.
  • Sudden changes in self-identity and perceived self-image - here, affected individuals see themselves as being a bad person or as if they do not exist. Shifting of their core values and goals also occurs.
  • Risky behaviours - these include driving recklessly, gambling, going on spending sprees, having unsafe sex, drug abuse, binge eating, and even sabotaging their own success by purposefully performing below par or inappropriately at work.
  • Periods of delusions - at times, patients may lose touch with reality and experience stress-induced paranoia.
  • Self-injury or threats of suicide - this can occur as a response to the fear of rejection or separation.
  • Persistent feelings of emptiness.
  • Intense anger spells and losing one's temper which results in lashing out at others.

Complications

The following are complications that can occur as a result of borderline personality disorder:

  • Not completing schooling or tertiary education.
  • Relationships filled with conflict, a strained marriage, and divorce.
  • Repeatedly changing jobs or job losses.
  • Being involved in abusive relationships.
  • Self-injury from burning or cutting oneself and frequent hospital visits or admissions.
  • Getting into trouble with the law.
  • Risky behaviours leading to sexually transmitted diseases, unplanned pregnancies, physical fights and injury, and motor vehicle accidents.
  • Attempted or completed suicide.

Additionally, there may be other mental health conditions that develop such as:

  • Anxiety disorders.
  • Major depression.
  • Alcohol or other substance abuse disorders.
  • Bipolar mood disorder.
  • Eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder.

Management

As can be noted, borderline personality disorder may lead to serious and even life-threatening situations which makes the management of this mental health condition extremely important.

The gold standard therapy for borderline personality disorder includes psychotherapy but certain medications can be used to manage symptoms caused by the disorder.

The types of psychotherapy that have been clinically proven to be effective in managing the condition include:

  • Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) - this form of therapy includes individual or group sessions which uses a skills-based approach to teach patients to manage stress triggers, emotions, and improve relationships.
  • Mentalization-based therapy (MBT) - this type of therapy helps one identify their own thoughts and feelings at any given time in order to create an alternative perspective on the situation. The concept of this therapy focuses on thinking before performing an action.
  • Transference-focused psychotherapy (TFP) - this form of therapy helps the affected individual to understand their interpersonal and emotional difficulties by developing a relationship between themselves and their therapist.
  • Schema-focused therapy - this therapy helps to identify any unmet needs that have led to undesirable life patterns and to meet these needs in a healthy manner to promote positive life patterns.
Managing borderline personality disorder can take time since dealing with thought, emotions, and behaviours can be challenging. The best chances of success then lie in consulting with healthcare professionals who are experienced in treating and managing people with this disorder.

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