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Borderline Personality Disorder: Symptoms, Causes & Myths

do i have bpd

Borderline Personality Disorder: Symptoms, Causes & Myths

Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology

Umar Javed



Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a personality disorder that is marked by unstable emotions and relationships. Every day for a person with BPD is like a rollercoaster because everything changes so frequently, whether it’s the person’s likes, dislikes, or self-image. BPD is like having an exposed nerve ending. Minor things and occasions can elicit strong reactions, and once a borderline person is upset, it’s difficult to calm down. Emotional instability and an inability of a BPD person to self-soothe can lead to relationship problems and spontaneous unusual or crazy behavior. Let’s dive into this chronic personality disorder’s interesting and surprising realities.

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Do I Have BPD? Main Symptoms

Borderline personality disorders manifest in distinct ways. Although there is a borderline personality disorder test you may find online, the official assessment conducted according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is the authentic source to diagnose someone with BPD. However, to specify the diagnosis, the symptoms of BPD are grouped into nine categories. The individual must have at least five of these symptoms for BPD diagnosis. Moreover, BPD symptoms must be long-standing (usually starting from adolescence) and significantly interfere with the person’s daily functioning.

Borderline personality disorder traits include following symptoms:

1. Fear of abandonment:
A BPD person’s fear of being left alone and frantic attempts to keep the loved one close may drive people away. A BPD person can beg, start fights, cling, track loved ones’ movements, or even physically prevent them from leaving.

2. Unstable relationships:
People with BPD often have extreme and brief relationships. They may quickly fall in love, having faith that each new person will make them feel whole, only to be disappointed. Their relationships appear to be either perfect or terrible.

3. Shifting self-image:
A borderline person doubts even themself.  At one point, they may feel good about themselves, and at the next moment, they may hate themselves. They may regularly change friends, jobs, lovers, values, religion, goals, or even sexual identity.

4. Impulsive behavior:
If a person has BPD, they may try engaging in harmful, pleasure-seeking behaviors, mainly when frustrated. They may spend money they can’t afford impulsively, rash drive, binge eat, engage in risky sex, or overdo drugs or alcohol.

5. Self-harming:
Suicidal ideation and intentional self-harm are prevalent in persons with BPD. Self-harm refers to any attempt to harm oneself without suicidal intent. Cutting and burning are two common forms of self-harm.

6. Feeling of emptiness:
Individuals with BPD frequently describe feeling empty, as if there is a void inside them. Nothing truly feels satisfying to them.

7. Mood swings:
BPD is also known as Emotionally unstable personality disorder [1*] due to the varying moods and emotions. Some moments could be happy for the BPD person, while others can be depressive. Small things that others dismiss can send such people into an emotional downturn.

8. Anger issues:
With BPD, people may experience extreme anger and a quick temper. They may have difficulty controlling themselves, yelling, throwing stuff, or becoming consumed by rage.

9. Feeling of suspiciousness:
People with BPD frequently experience paranoid delusions or suspected thoughts about the motives of others.

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Types of Borderline Personality Disorder

BPD is a very diverse disorder that can manifest itself in different ways. Theodore Millon, a field expert, has divided BPD into 4 categories.

Discouraged BorderlineImpulsive Borderline
Demonstrates clingy and emotionally needy behavior, striving to follow along in a group setting despite appearing depressed. Borderlines who are discouraged are more likely to engage in self-mutilation and suicide. They seek approval, but they also avoid people, feel unworthy, and are prone to depression.This type of BPD may exhibit a mix of overly emotional and antisocial characteristics. These people are easily distracted, overactive, and rarely think before acting. Their actions may cause harm to themselves or others due to a lack of self-reflection.
Petulant BorderlineSelf Destructive
A petulant borderline is a person with a passive-aggressive personality. Others may label them as negative, demanding, obstinate, and impatient. They are frequently envious of other people’s happiness and resent relying on others. Some people may report somatic disorders to get attention.Masochistic personality traits are present in self-destructive borderlines. They tend to direct their emotions inward, leading to harmful behaviors toward themselves. They desperately want to be independent, but they are also terrified of it. This creates a lot of internal conflict and tension.

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BPD causes

Borderline Personality Disorder Causes

BPD does not have a single cause. Many factors can be considered triggers of borderline personality disorder. The reasons may involve the following:

  • Inheritance: Genes inherited from parents may increase one’s risk of developing BPD. However, there is no evidence of a BPD gene.
  • Brain chemistry: Many people with BPD are thought to have a problem with their brain’s neurotransmitters, especially serotonin. Serotonin imbalances have been linked to aggression, depression, and difficulty controlling destructive urges.
  • Environmental factors: Several environmental factors appear to be prevalent in people with BPD. These are some examples: physical or emotional abuse, exposure to distress or fear as a child for a long time, being neglected by parent(s) and growing up with a family member having mental issues.

Borderline Personality Disorder: Myths

There are several myths associated with BPD. Let’s bust them out.

  • Victims of childhood abuse. Many people believe BPD is only caused by childhood abuse. This misunderstanding can affect how people interact with those who have BPD. While some people with BPD have been abused, this is not the case for everyone.
  • It is not treatable. Many people believe BPD is not treatable. But that’s not true. Treatment like Psychotherapy can significantly reduce the severity of BPD symptoms and help such people live fulfilling everyday lives.
  • BPD is only found in women. While it was previously thought that women were more likely to be diagnosed with BPD than men, current findings have shown similar rates in both genders. However, their BPD symptoms vary. While women are more likely to experience mood swings and feelings of emptiness, men are more likely to exhibit behavioral impulsivity.

Before You Leave

A borderline personality disorder is chronic but treatable. You are not alone if you suffer from any form of BPD. Therapy can help you learn to cope with your symptoms as it effectively treats BPD. Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance right now. Reach out to the professionals at MEDvidi for any sort of help on mental health issues.


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  1. Borderline Personality Disorder
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Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology

Umar Javed


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