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Borderline personality disorder

Summary

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is one of a group of psychiatric conditions known as 'personality disorders'. People with BPD have difficulty relating to other people. With treatment, the symptoms of BPD can be managed better, reduced or even eliminated.

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Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is one of a group of psychiatric conditions known as ‘personality disorders’. BPD is marked by distressing emotional states, difficulty relating to other people and self-harming behaviour.

Symptoms of borderline personality disorder (BPD)


People with BPD have difficulty relating to other people and the world around them. Symptoms may include:
  • Idealising or devaluing other people
  • Difficulty compromising
  • An absence of control in areas that could be self-damaging. For example, spending of money, unsafe sex or substance abuse
  • Intense outbursts of anger, anxiety and depression.

Extreme behaviour and BPD


People with BPD may exhibit extreme behaviour, such as repeated self-mutilation or taking overdoses of medication. There may be a variety of reasons for such behaviour. The person with BPD may feel that they are dependent on others for their identity or may be afraid of being abandoned. The extreme behaviours are frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. Such behaviour is often dismissed as ‘attention-seeking’ or manipulation. However, the behaviour is a symptom of the disorder and requires professional help, as well as education and support for family and other carers.

Causes of BPD


The causes of BPD are unclear, but may involve:
  • Psychological factors
  • Biological factors
  • Social factors.

Traumatic experiences in early life are common in people with BPD.

Numbers of people with BPD


About two in every 100 people (about 300,000 Australians) will develop BPD. Women are three times more likely than men to develop BPD.

Treatment can reduce BPD symptoms


Treatment can help people manage, reduce or even eliminate symptoms of BPD. The behaviour associated with this condition means that people with BPD often alienate those who know them, so they have difficulty finding effective support and treatment.

Current effective treatments for BPD


Currently, the most effective treatments for BPD are:
  • Psychotherapy – the doctor or psychologist talks to the person about their symptoms. They also discuss alternative ways to cope with symptoms
  • Psychosocial rehabilitation – to help people learn social skills
  • Medication – this may help reduce associated symptoms such as anxiety or depression.

Treatment of associated conditions


BPD often occurs with:
  • Mood disorders (for example, bipolar disorder and depression)
  • Eating disorders
  • Alcohol or drug abuse.

It is essential that each of these disorders is recognised and treated separately.

Where to get help

  • SANE Australia Helpline Tel. 1800 187 263
  • Your doctor.

Things to remember

  • People with BPD often have trouble relating to other people.
  • BPD may cause a person to display extreme behaviours, such as self-mutilation.
  • BPD often occurs with mood disorders, eating disorders and alcohol or drug abuse. Each condition (including BPD) must be recognised and treated separately.

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This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by:

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Last reviewed: January 2014

Content on this website is provided for education and information purposes only. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professional. Content has been prepared for Victorian residents and wider Australian audiences, and was accurate at the time of publication. Readers should note that, over time, currency and completeness of the information may change. All users are urged to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.


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Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is one of a group of psychiatric conditions known as 'personality disorders'. People with BPD have difficulty relating to other people. With treatment, the symptoms of BPD can be managed better, reduced or even eliminated.



Content on this website is provided for education and information purposes only. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your qualified health professional. Content has been prepared for Victorian residence and wider Australian audiences, and was accurate at the time of publication. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users are urged to always seek advice from a qualified health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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