Whether you think you might have BPD, have already been diagnosed, or are worried about someone you love, you might have questions. We have shared below our most frequently asked questions about BPD.
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) can cause a wide range of symptoms, which can be broadly grouped into 4 main areas:
- emotional instability – the psychological term for this is “affective dysregulation”
- disturbed patterns of thinking or perception – “cognitive distortions” or “perceptual distortions”
- impulsive behaviour
- intense but unstable relationships with others
The symptoms of a personality disorder may range from mild to severe, and you can have a wide range of differing symptoms. A BPD diagnosis requires the presence of 5 of the 9 main symptoms – this allows for 256 different combinations by which an individual could receive a diagnosis.
You should first speak with your GP about your concerns, they may then refer you onto a community mental health team (CMHT) or may recommend a form of therapy first to see if that helps you.
A combination of medications to alleviate symptoms, and a form of therapy to help you manage any trauma or distress you may be suffering, is usually the route you would take. There is no medication specifically for BPD, but there are medications that can help with a range of symptoms such as anxiety, depression, mood swings, etc.
Be there for them, in their good times and bad. People living with BPD need stability, they need to know they are cared for and that you won’t leave them. Many people with BPD have serious issues of abandonment, so reassurance can mean a lot. Listen to them, and let them know you are there for them and you care.
Recovery means different things to different people. To us here at Borderline Support UK, we mean recovery to mean living well with BPD.
There is no cure for BPD, but recovery is an ongoing process of ensuring you can live a full, happy life despite your condition.
Medical professionals are divided on what causes BPD, and the short answer is we don’t really know a definite cause. Experts believe there are several factors that may play a part:
Childhood trauma – many people who have been diagnosed with BPD have suffered childhood trauma such as neglect or abuse. It’s believed that childhood trauma disrupts the development of the brain.
Brain chemicals – an imbalance in the chemicals that control the brain’s functions (particularly serotonin, sometimes known as the ‘happy’ hormone) could be linked with the condition.
Genetics – those with close family members diagnosed with BPD are thought to be more likely to be diagnosed with BPD themselves.
These are just some of the things that could be linked to BPD, but more research is needed to understand this disorder and its causes.
They are both exactly the same condition, the only difference is the name.
In recent years, medical professionals have begun to refer to BPD as EUPD – emotionally unstable personality disorder. EUPD is largely viewed as a controversial term, and has negative overtones.
The word borderline has been used for people living with mental illness since 1938, when a doctor in the US described a group of patients on the ‘borderline’ between psychosis and neurosis, as he observed that the condition bordered on both conditions.
While neither term is ideal, most people prefer BPD as it is less negative and damaging.
In the UK you are not legally obligated to tell your employer about any medical conditions, whether mental or physical. Whether you tell your employer is a personal choice, but you are not obligated to do so.
There can be benefits to sharing your condition – your employer can be more aware of your needs at work, and can help prevent situations where you may become stressed, anxious or overwhelmed.
Ultimately, it is your decision to make, and you can say as much or as little as you like.
No, people with BPD are no more dangerous than any other area of society!
Statiscally, a person with BPD is much more likely to hurt themselves than anyone else – the condition has a high rate of self-harm and suicide, approximately 10% of those living with BPD will attempt to take their own lives or hurt themselves at some point.
Because BPD affects how we see ourselves as well as those around us, we are more likely to be angry or upset at our own behaviour or personality traits.
Some people with BPD do struggle with anger issues, which are usually linked to something else (such as abuse or neglect, not receiving the support they need, etc).
There is help available for those suffering with controlling their anger, many NHS trusts have anger management courses, as well as talking therapy services to allow you to get to the root of the anger. There is some great information on the Mind website about getting treatment and support for anger issues.
Your GP will be able to refer you to a local counselling or talking therapy service – some NHS services allow you to refer yourself when you need to.
You can also check your local area for support groups, or local organisations who offer support services. Our UK support directory lists some of these.
You can also join online groups such as those on Facebook, or our own online forums.
You are disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities.
- ‘substantial’ is more than minor or trivial, eg it takes much longer than it usually would to complete a nomral daily task like getting washed or dressed, using a computer, working set hours or interacting with other people.
- ‘long-term’ means 12 months or more
Many different mental health conditions can lead to a disability, but because borderline personality disorder affects people differently, there isn’t an easy answer to this question.
You can find out more here:
A quick Google search for ‘BPD tests’ will bring up thousands of webpages claiming to be able to test you for BPD. While some of the questions asked on these ‘tests’ may tick some symptom boxes, the truth is that there is no test for BPD. The complexity of the condition, along with the wide combination of symptoms that is possible, means it cannot be accurately diagnosed from a set of written questions.
During the diagnosis process, your GP will test you for a range of physical conditions which could explain your symptoms – for example, symptoms of psychosis can actually be caused by infections, most commonly urinary tract infections, and are not necessarily signs of being mentally unwell.
Only a mental health professional (such as a psychiatrist) can accurately diagnose a mental health condition, after a thorough investigation of physical and mental health, and assessment of your history and current situation.