Borderline Personality Disorder Signs & Symptoms

What is BPD?

Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental health disorder that is characterized by a pervasive pattern of instability in personal relationships and self-image as well as impulsivity in multiple contexts. Adolescents with borderline personality disorder tend to have a severely distorted self-image, often feeling worthless or fundamentally flawed. Furthermore, these young people are extremely sensitive to environmental changes and will experience intense fears of abandonment or inappropriate anger when plans are suddenly changed. They will also go to great lengths to avoid real or imagined abandonment due to their inability to be alone. All of this anger, impulsiveness, and frequent mood swings make it extremely difficult for an adolescent with BPD to develop healthy, lasting relationships.

The symptoms associated with borderline personality disorder may create problems for a young person in school, at home, and throughout the community. If you believe that your child is struggling with borderline personality disorder it is extremely important that you get professional help.


Statistics on Borderline Personality Disorder

It is estimated that anywhere between six to ten million Americans are affected by borderline personality disorder, which is about 2% to 6% of the general population. About 75% to 90% of those living with borderline personality disorder are women.

Causes and Risks

Causes and Risk Factors for Borderline Personality Disorder

The causes for the development of borderline personality disorder are not well understood; however, it is believed that a number of factors may play a role. Some causes and risk factors that may contribute to the onset of BPD can include:

Genetic: Research has shown that borderline personality disorder is approximately 15 times more likely to develop in a young person who has a first degree relative (parent or sibling) who has this disorder.

Environmental: It is believed that certain social and cultural factors play a role in placing a child or adolescent at an increased risk for the development of borderline personality disorder. For example, growing up in an unstable, abusive, or neglectful household may be a factor in the development of this disorder.

Risk Factors:

  • Family history of mental illness
  • Being female
  • Deficiencies of certain neurotransmitters in the brain
  • Family discord
  • Poor parenting or the absence of parents while growing up
  • Experiencing physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
  • Neglect and abandonment as a child

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder

The signs and symptoms of borderline personality disorder will present differently in each child or adolescent with the severity of symptoms fluctuating over time. Some signs and symptoms of borderline personality disorder include:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Impulsive and risky behavior
  • Frequent changes in friendships
  • Episodes of inappropriate anger
  • Self-harming behaviors
  • Unstable and intense relationships
  • Suicidal behavior

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Derealization
  • Depersonalization
  • Suspiciousness
  • Hallucinations
  • Illusions
  • Paranoia

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Mood swings
  • Intense episodes of anxiety or depression
  • Fear of being alone
  • Feelings of self-hatred
  • Feeling misunderstood, empty, alone, or hopeless
  • Unstable, fluctuating image of self
  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviors


Effects of Borderline Personality Disorder

Unfortunately, borderline personality disorder can cause a significant amount of damage in a young person’s life. If not properly treated the long-term consequences that can develop can be quite severe. The following are some examples of effects that a young person with BPD can experience:

  • Demoralized sense of self
  • Depression
  • Substance use disorders
  • Inability to obtain and maintain friendships
  • Family conflict
  • Social isolation
  • Decline in school performance
  • At higher risk for accidents, fights, or unplanned pregnancies
  • Self-harming behaviors
  • Hospitalizations as a result of self-harming behaviors
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Death by suicide


Borderline Personality and Co-Occurring Disorders

The following mental health disorders have been known to co-occur alongside borderline personality disorder:

  • Substance abuse and addiction
  • Other personality disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Depressive disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Our son’s ability to communicate and handle the situations of every day life has drastically improved. We thank SUWS for equipping him with the cognitive tools to live a normal life!

– Anonymous Parent