Borderline Personality Disorder: Symptoms to Treatment

Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder can be a difficult process. Learn about the symptoms, causes and treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is classified as a personality disorder, meaning that it represents an almost lifelong pattern of behavior that may or may not be recognized as abnormal by the sufferer but is clearly perceived as a problem by others coming into contact with the sufferer. Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder involve:

  • problems with the way patients feel about themselves
  • how they relate to others
  • how patients actually behave

Sufferers often come across as self-assured, but usually inside feel quite insecure about themselves and their relationships. The end result is that relationships are:

  • often quite intense
  • difficult to keep going
  • often in turmoil

These relationships can be with family, friends, lovers, coworkers and bosses. Patients with the Borderline Personality Disorder often have:

  • great and often inappropriate anger which they find difficult to control
  • strong emotions that come and go frequently
  • suicidal thinking or behavior
  • self injury behaviors
  • impulsive actions such as engaging in risky sex, gambling, drug abuse, and other potentially self destructive behaviors

It is called borderline because originally the thoughts and behaviors involved with the disorder were thought to be "borderline psychotic." Although the behaviors are intense and difficult to cope with or understand -- they are usually not "psychotic."

Causes of Borderline Personality Disorder

The causes of Borderline Personality Disorder are unclear, even with present understanding, but may include:

  • history of childhood abuse (physical, verbal or sexual)
  • biological brain changes
  • genetics

However, the real "cause" of the disorder is not yet totally understood.

The problem with Borderline Personality Disorder is that while those close to the sufferer may clearly see the behaviors and emotions and their impact, the patients themselves often do not seem to understand that it is them causing their emotions and behaviors. For the patient, the disorder causes them to see the fault of their situations or emotions to be the result of the behavior of others towards them. This is what we call "ego syntonic", which means that the patient feels uncomfortable as a result of what their feelings or behaviors cause, but feels no discomfort about their own thoughts and behaviors.

Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder

Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder usually is best accomplished through psychotherapy, especially a therapy called DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) involving teaching the sufferer how to regulate their emotions, improve their relationships and tolerate discomfort resulting from the effects of their own behaviors. Medications are sometimes helpful, but therapy is the mainstay of treatment.

Besides the obvious effects of symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) on relationships, work interactions and family interactions, other negative results can involve: self injury, drug abuse, end result of risky behavior, and even suicide.

We will take a closer look at Borderline Personality Disorder, symptoms causes and treatments on the HealthyPlace TV show - Tuesday June 9 (7:30p CT, 8:30 ET live and on-demand on our website).

Dr. Harry Croft is a Board-Certified Psychiatrist and Medical Director of Dr. Croft is also the co-host of the HealthyPlace TV Show.

next: Anorexia Nervosa: Development and Treatment
~ other mental health articles by Dr. Croft

APA Reference
(2009, June 9). Borderline Personality Disorder: Symptoms to Treatment, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 25 from

Last Updated: January 14, 2014

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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