Borderline Personality Disorder Causes & Effects

Borderline personality disorder, or BPD, is a mental health concern that is characterized by instability and impulsivity. People who have borderline personality disorder experience significant shifts in their thought patterns, behaviors, self-image, and relationships.

As the National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH) has reported, the signs and symptoms of borderline personality disorder can lead to distressing episodes that last from a few hours to several days.

Signs of Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline personality disorder can cause a person to engage in a variety of self-defeating behaviors.

Common warning signs of borderline personality disorder include:

  • Displaying intense, inappropriate outbursts of anger
  • Behaving in a frantic or otherwise excessive manner to avoid abandonment
  • Abusing alcohol or other drugs
  • Experiencing episodes of binge eating
  • Having a pattern of intense but unstable relationships
  • Going on spending sprees
  • Engaging in unsafe sex
  • Driving recklessly

A person does not have to demonstrate every one of these signs of borderline personality disorder in order to be diagnosed with BPD. Also, please note that only a qualified professional can make an accurate diagnosis.

Anyone who exhibits signs of borderline personality disorder should consult with an experienced healthcare provider.

Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder

In addition to the outward signs of borderline personality disorder, people who develop this type of mental health concern may experience a variety of borderline personality disorder symptoms.

Examples of borderline personality disorder symptoms include:

  • A pervasive feeling of emptiness or worthlessness
  • Profound, unrealistic fear of being abandoned by friends, family members, or others
  • Periods of intense anxiety or irritability
  • Frequent thoughts of self-harm or suicide
  • Paranoia
  • Dissociation (feeling removed from your thoughts, feelings, or environment)
  • Dysphoria (extreme sense of being dissatisfied or uneasy)
  • Unstable self-image or sense of self

Some people will have a few of these borderline personality disorder symptoms, while others may experience many or all of them. A person who has any BPD symptoms should consult with a mental health professional.

Causes & Risk Factors of Borderline Personality Disorder

No sole definitive cause of borderline personality disorder has been identified. However, researchers have noted that certain risk factors can increase the likelihood that a person will develop BPD.

Possible risk factors for borderline personality disorder can include:

  • Having a sibling or parent who has borderline personality disorder
  • Having a family history of substance use disorders and certain other mental health concerns
  • Being physically, sexually, or emotionally abused in the context of a previous relationship
  • Being abandoned as a child or an adolescent

Borderline Personality Disorder Statistics

The following borderline personality disorder statistics are listed in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which is published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA):

  • Borderline personality disorder may impact between 1.6% and 5.9% of the population.
  • About 10% of people who seek outpatient mental healthcare have borderline personality disorder.
  • About 20% of people who receive inpatient psychiatric care exhibit signs and symptoms of BPD.

Also, a 2019 study that was published online by the U.S. National Library of Medicine noted that as many as 10% of people who have borderline personality disorder may die by suicide.

Potential Effects of Borderline Personality Disorder

The effects of borderline personality disorder can be severe. A person who struggles with the symptoms of borderline personality disorder may experience negative effects in the context of their physical, emotional, and social well-being.

The following are examples of the potential effects of borderline personality disorder:

  • Physical injuries due to impulsive, reckless, or violent behaviors
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Financial difficulties
  • Being arrested, fined, or incarcerated
  • Inability to get and keep a job
  • Being ostracized or isolated
  • Engaging in self-harming behaviors
  • Suicidal behaviors
  • Death by suicide

The potential effects of borderline personality disorder can cause significant distress, and they may even be fatal. But when a person receives effective professional care, they can begin to heal from past harm and reduce their risk for experiencing additional negative effects of borderline personality disorder.

What If My Borderline Personality Disorder Symptoms Return?

When you get professional help for borderline personality disorder, you’ll learn how to manage the symptoms of BPD and exert greater control of your thoughts and actions.

Choosing to seek professional assistance is a courageous, hopeful step toward a healthier and more satisfying future. But as you continue your work to manage the symptoms of borderline personality disorder, you may have occasional setbacks. If this occurs, please know that it is not evidence that you have failed or that the care you received wasn’t effective.

An important part of professional care for BPD is learning how to respond in the healthiest possible manner if you experience a recurrence of the signs and symptoms of borderline personality disorder. While you’re receiving care, you’ll develop more effective coping skills. You can also plan productive ways to deal with any setbacks or challenges you experience.

One of the most important lessons you can learn is that there is no shame in asking for help. Please never forget: You are not alone, help is available, and you are worth the effort.

Common Underlying Conditions or Co-Occurring Disorders

People who experience symptoms of borderline personality disorder may also have an elevated risk for developing certain other mental health concerns. The possible presence of co-occurring disorders is among the many reasons why you should seek help at a center that can provide you with a thorough assessment, an accurate diagnosis, and comprehensive care.

When you choose Life Healing Center, our compassionate professionals will work closely with you to identify and address any co-occurring disorders. At our center, you can begin to make sustained progress toward true and lasting healing in mind, body, and spirit.

This content was written on behalf of and reviewed by the clinical staff at Life Healing Center.

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