Borderline Personality Disorder Causes & Effects

Learn About Borderline Personality Disorder

Learn About Borderline Personality Disorder & Treatment at Life Healing Center

Among the personality disorders listed in the Fifth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, borderline personality disorder, also referred to as BPD, is one of the most distressing types. This disorder can cause sufferers a great deal of turmoil and often results in exceedingly harmful and self-destructive behaviors. Characterized by pervasive instability in relation to a person’s emotions, self-image, and relationships with others, this personality disorder causes sufferers to demonstrate emotional unpredictability and, oftentimes, alarming impulsivity. The emotional dysregulation that is cornerstone to this condition is rooted in an intense fear of abandonment that ultimately causes sufferers to act on this trepidation.

Those battling BPD frequently form strong relationships with others, yet are quick to devalue the person and the relationship on the whole when it seems as though the other individual is rejecting the person with this condition. Sufferers of BPD may also resort to drastic measures to prevent being abandoned or rejected; measures that can include self-harm or engaging in risky behaviors that can result in injury.

Another driving force in the decline of an individual’s functioning when BPD is a factor in his or her life has to do with the distorted self-image, low self-esteem, and perceived low self-worth that sufferers of this disorder often struggle with. This poor sense of self, along with the ever-present fear of abandonment, experienced by sufferers of BPD is a disastrous combination that can lead to attempts at suicide if treatment is not sought and received in order to address the symptoms of BPD.

An important thing to be aware of, however, is that there are treatment options for borderline personality disorder so that they can regain healthy control over their lives.


Borderline Personality Disorder Statistics

Borderline personality disorder is a mental health condition that is diagnosed more often in women than in men, with seventy-five percent of sufferers being female. Further research shows that, of all Americans, somewhere between 6 and 10 million people meet diagnostic criteria for this mental illness. It is also believed that this personality disorder affects more people than schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Causes & Risks

Causes and Risk Factors for Borderline Personality Disorder

There are many causes and risk factors that can work in collaboration to cause symptoms of borderline personality disorder to manifest. The following causes and listed risk factors are those that are widely accepted among mental health professionals and help to explain why some people develop BPD, while others do not:

Genetic: Research has determined that those who have a first-degree relative, such as a parent or sibling, who suffers from borderline personality disorder are at an increased risk for also struggling with this mental illness. In fact, those with this type of history are 10 times more likely to display symptoms synonymous with BPD than are those who do not have a family history of this personality disorder. In conclusion, it can be said that genetics play an important role in the development of borderline personality disorder.

Environmental: There are several environmental contributors that can influence the progression of borderline personality disorder symptoms. Poor attachment to caregivers during childhood, early exposure to stress and chaos, and a history of being victimized can culminate in a diagnosis of BPD in adulthood. Furthermore, if a person has a history of experiencing trauma, yet did not learn how to effectively cope with such turmoil, the symptoms of this mental health condition could become more apparent and worsen as well.

Risk Factors:

  • Being female
  • Experiencing poor or unhealthy attachment to one’s caregivers during one’s formative years
  • Being the victim of neglect or emotional, physical, or sexual abuse
  • Personal history of trauma
  • Exposure to chaos or ongoing stress
  • Family history of borderline personality disorder
  • Family history of other mental health disorders
  • Personal history of substance abuse and/or addiction

Signs & Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder

The type of relationship that is had between someone suffering from borderline personality disorder and another individual impacts the obviousness of signs that suggest a person is grappling with BPD. Some individuals who are in a relationship with a BPD sufferer may not notice the symptoms of this condition if the relationship is only platonic; whereas others who are engaged in an intimate relationship may be more attuned to the signs of BPD. In order to recognize the symptoms of borderline personality disorder, it is necessary to take note of any of the following:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Taking drastic measures to prevent being abandoned by others
  • Self-harming behaviors
  • Engaging in unstable relationships with others in which the person with BPD goes from prioritizing to devaluing the individual with whom he or she is in said relationship with
  • Excessive crying or becoming hysterical
  • Exceedingly erratic and attention-seeking behavior
  • Lashing out aggressively towards others

Physical symptoms:

  • Injury as a result of self-harm
  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Significant weight loss or gain

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Depersonalization
  • Derealization
  • Delusions
  • Poor decision-making
  • Paranoia

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Oscillating shifts in mood
  • Feelings of wanting to end one’s own life
  • Drastically low self-esteem
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Helpless feelings
  • Poor self-worth
  • Unstable self-image
  • Overwhelming feelings of being lonely or abandoned


Effects of Borderline Personality Disorder

Because of the ongoing emotional turmoil that is experienced by sufferers of borderline personality disorder, it is quite common for those afflicted by this disorder to ultimately endure negative effects if treatment is not sought and received. Such effects can impact both the sufferer of this condition and others within that individual’s circle of peers and loved ones. The following effects are examples of what can be avoided by seeking mental health treatment for BPD:

  • Ongoing self-harm
  • Disproportionate sense of self, which can lead to low self-esteem and/or self-worth
  • Unstable / dysfunctional relationships with others
  • Frequent attempts at suicide
  • Untimely death as a result of suicide
  • Development of additional mental health concerns
  • Development of substance abuse problem(s)
  • Inability to acquire or maintain employment
  • Financial difficulties due to unstable employment
  • Intense conflict with others, including family members and other loved ones
  • Decline in the status of one’s physical health

Co-Occurring Disorders

Borderline Personality Disorder & Co-Occurring Disorders

Similar to other mental illnesses, symptoms of borderline personality disorder are known to occur alongside the symptoms of other mental health conditions at the same time. Trauma-related disorders, such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and acute stress disorder, are a group of mental disorders that can be diagnosed in those afflicted by BPD. Such disorders frequently occur in those with BPD because of the emotional instability of these individuals and their inability to cope with trauma and undue stress appropriately. In addition to trauma-related disorders, the following are other mental illnesses known to affect the lives of people who meet diagnostic criteria for borderline personality disorder:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Eating disorders
  • Substance use disorders
  • Depressive disorders