Borderline Personality Disorder: An Overview

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a complex and often misunderstood mental health condition that affects an individual’s ability to maintain stable relationships, regulate emotions, and maintain a consistent self-image. These challenges can have profound implications for a person’s daily life and overall well-being.

Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder

Emotional Instability    

Rapidly fluctuating moods are common. People struggling with BPD have trouble with emotional regulation. Mood swings can last from a few hours to several days. 

Fear of Abandonment    

This may result in frantic efforts to avoid being left alone, which can include impulsively seeking physical closeness or emotional over-involvement. As a result, those with the disorder may display patterns of unstable and intense relationships, swinging between extremes of idealization (putting someone on a pedestal) and devaluation (considering them worthless or bad).

Unstable Self-Image    

A shifting sense of self or self-worth, leading to periods of self-loathing or feeling as if one doesn’t exist.

Chronic Feelings of Emptiness    

Individuals might describe feeling “empty” or “lost.”

Intense, Unstable Relationships    

Relationships are often characterized by extremes of idealization or devaluation.

Self-Harming and Impulsive Behaviors    

This can include harming oneself, or suicidal threats or tendencies. Additionally, this may manifest in risky activities like unsafe sex, reckless driving, substance abuse, or binge eating.

Intense and Explosive Anger    

Difficulty controlling anger, with frequent displays of temper or recurrent physical fights.


Temporary feelings of paranoia or detachment, especially under stress.

Causes and Risk Factors

The exact cause of BPD remains unknown, but it is believed to arise from a combination of genetic, brain, environmental, and social factors:

  • Genetics – Having a close relative with BPD might increase the risk.
  • Brain Structure – Changes in certain areas, particularly those that control emotions and impulses, may be linked to BPD.
  • Environmental Influences – Many individuals with BPD report traumatic life events, such as abuse or abandonment during childhood. However, many others with similar histories do not develop the disorder.
  • Neurological Factors – Certain neurotransmitters in the brain, particularly serotonin, might not function effectively in people with BPD.


While BPD can be challenging to treat, progress can be made with the right approach. The primary form of treatment is psychotherapy, and medications can be prescribed to treat specific symptoms.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): DBT focuses on teaching coping skills to combat destructive urges, improve relationships, and regulate emotions.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This helps individuals identify and change core beliefs and behaviors that are the root of false perceptions of themselves and others.

With appropriate therapy and support, many individuals with BPD can lead fulfilling, productive lives. Recognizing the signs and seeking timely professional help is necessary for management and well-being. If you or someone you know exhibits symptoms of BPD, consider seeking guidance from a mental health professional.

Trust Mental Health offers mental health therapy in California. Our team of BIPOC therapists are experienced in trauma therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, and other therapeutic treatments. Contact us today for a free 15 minute consultation. 


What is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)?      

BPD is a mental health disorder characterized by unstable moods, behavior, and relationships. It often involves self-image issues, difficulty managing emotions, and a pattern of unstable relationships.

Is BPD the same as bipolar disorder?      

While both involve mood disturbances, they are distinct disorders. Bipolar disorder involves episodes of depression and mania, whereas BPD primarily affects self-image, behavior, and interpersonal relationships.

What’s the difference between BPD and “being emotional”?      

Everyone can be emotional or have mood swings. BPD involves prolonged, intense emotional responses, an unstable self-image, and a pattern of unstable relationships, often stemming from a profound fear of abandonment.