Borderline Personality Disorder

Also known as BPD

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental health issue that is characterized by unstable relationships, behaviors, moods, and emotions. Left untreated, BPD can cause significant issues in a person’s life disrupting their work, school, day-to-day events, and their relationships with others. 

Like many psychological disorders, the causes of BPD are complex and not fully known. But with appropriate help and treatment, people diagnosed with BPD can live a better quality of life and reduce their symptoms.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What causes BPD?

    Although the exact cause of BPD is unknown, researchers believe that genetic, biological, and environmental factors play a role in this complex disorder. For instance, there is strong evidence that childhood trauma such as abuse and neglect may be associated with BPD.

  • Is BPD genetic?

    Similar to many other psychiatric disorders, there is evidence that BPD is highly heritable. People who have a first-degree relative with BPD have an increased risk of developing the condition, but this fact does not guarantee they will be diagnosed.

  • What are the criteria for BPD?

    To diagnose someone with BPD, mental health clinicians ascertain if a person has displayed five or more of the criteria for BPD such as emotional instability, impulsive behavior, unstable self-image, inappropriate anger, idealization and devaluation in relationships, suicidal or self-harming behaviors, transient stress related paranoid ideation or dissociative symptoms.

  • How is BPD treated?

    In most cases, BPD is treated with a combination of medications and psychotherapy. However, there are times when a person with BPD may be hospitalized to protect themselves and others. There are several evidence based psychotherapies often used in the treatment of BPD including Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Mentalization-Based Therapy (MBT), and Transference-Focused Psychotherapy (TFP).

Key Terms

The Fight-Or-Flight Response and Borderline Personality Disorder
How to Live Your Best Life When You Have a Personality Disorder
How Borderline Personality Disorder Hurts Thinking Processes
How Mood Liability With BPD Can Be Treated
Internalized Symptoms With BPD Include Depression and Social Issues
Disinhibition Is Common in Borderline Personality Disorder
How Does Borderline Personality Disorder Inhibit Bereavement?
Community Sampling for BPD Is Done Differently Than Other Research
What Is Impulsivity?
What Is Avoidant Personality Disorder?
What Are the Genetic Causes of Borderline Personality Disorder?
Why an Invalidating Environment May Be a Cause of BPD
Here's What May Cause Borderline Personality Disorder
People With BPD Have More Negative Self-Conscious Emotions
How the Severity of BPD Symptoms May Decrease as a Person Ages
Why People With Borderline Personality Disorder Tend to Lie
How Borderline Personality Disorder Impacts Emotion Regulation
Self-Mutilation Is Often a Secret That People With BPD Keep Hidden
6 Facts About Borderline Personality Disorder
The Link Between Dichotomous Thinking and Borderline Personality
Learn How Dopamine Is Linked to Mental Illness
The Challenges of Unstable Interpersonal Relationships and BPD
Why an Emotionally Invalidating Environment Can Cause Harm
The Relationship Between Child Abuse and BPD
How Mood Swings Can Be Triggered With Borderline Personality Disorder
What You Need to Know About Proximal Risk Factors and Mental Health
Is Paranoid Ideation the Same as Delusional Paranoia?
Treatment Options for Borderline Personality Disorder Subtypes
A Distal Risk Factor in Borderline Personality Disorder
How Common Is Borderline Personality Disorder?
Idealization and Devaluation as Defense Mechanisms in BPD
Why Suicidality in Borderline Personality Disorder Is Common
Learn What "Borderline" Refers to in Borderline Personality Disorder
How Can You Lower Your Risk of Inherited BPD?
Stress-Busters to Help Tame Paranoia in BPD
BPD Splitting Can Harm Relationships
Why Many People With BPD Lack a Strong Sense of Self
Borderline Personality Disorder Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
What Is Dissociation in Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)?
What You Can Do to Help Others Feel Validated
How Temperament Is an Important Factor of Personality Disorders
Use This Exercise to Identify Your BPD Triggers
DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder
What to Expect During a Borderline Personality Disorder Assessment
Could You Have BPD?
How to Cope With Borderline Personality Disorder After Being Diagnosed
How PD-NOS Was Reclassified in the DSM-5
4 Screening Tools for Diagnosing Borderline Personality Disorder
Psychometric Properties in a BPD Test
9 Symptoms May Indicate Borderline Personality Disorder Diagnosis
Multiaxial Diagnosing Is No Longer Used in DSM-5
Are You Worried That a Loved One Might Have BPD?
How Borderline Personality Disorder Is Diagnosed
Cognitive Behavioral Therapies for BPD
How Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) Work for BPD
The Benefits and Risks of Mood Stabilizers for BPD
How Medication May Help Improve Thinking and Reduce Anger in BPD
How to Find Dialectical Behavior Therapy for BPD Near You
A Unique Therapy to Ease a Traumatic Memory
Can Anti-Anxiety Medications Help Treat Your BPD Symptoms?
Page Sources
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  1. American Psychological Association. Understanding psychological testing and assessment.

  2. Bateman A, Fonagy P. Mentalization based treatment for borderline personality disorder. World Psychiatry. 2010;9(1):11-15. doi:10.1002/j.2051-5545.2010.tb00255.x

  3. Society of Clinical Psychology. Transference-focused psychotherapy for borderline personality disorder.