Borderline Personality Disorder: Symptoms, Causes, & Treatment

Borderline Personality Treatment in Florida

Updated Last June 1, 2024
Published By: Facility Staff

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a complex mental health condition characterized by unstable moods, relationships, and self-image. 

People diagnosed with BPD often experience intense emotions and struggle with regulating their emotions and behaviors. 

Here at Mark Behavioral Health, we offer designed-for-you care for BPD and other mental health issues so you can manage your symptoms and get back to living your life.

Read on to explore the symptoms, causes, and treatment options for managing BPD.

Quick Facts on Borderline Personality Disorder

  • Prevalence: Affects approximately 1.6% of the adult population in the United States. It is diagnosed more frequently in women than men, with studies suggesting a female-to-male ratio of about 3:1.
  • Diagnostic criteria: Based on a pattern of pervasive instability in mood, self-image, interpersonal relationships, and behavior. Symptoms must be present for at least two years and significantly impair functioning.
  • Co-occurring conditions: Mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety disorders, ADHD, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance use disorders, and eating disorders.
  • Risk factors: While the exact causes of BPD are not fully understood, genetic predisposition, early life trauma, environmental stressors, and neurobiological factors are believed to contribute to its development.
  • Treatment: A combination of psychotherapy, medication management, and support services. 
  • Prognosis: With treatment, people with BPD may experience a significant improvement in symptoms and quality of life. However, a long-term commitment to therapy and self-care may be required.

What Causes Borderline Personality Disorder?

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a complex mental health condition influenced by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychosocial factors.  

The primary risk factors associated with BPD include:

  • Genetic predisposition: Family studies suggest a genetic component to BPD, with those who have a first-degree relative with this disorder at higher risk of developing it. Genetic factors may contribute to abnormalities in brain structure and function, affecting emotional regulation and impulse control.
  • Neurobiological factors: Alterations in neurotransmitter systems, particularly serotonin and dopamine, have been implicated in the development of BPD. Dysregulation of the amygdala, prefrontal cortex, and other brain regions involved in emotion processing and regulation may contribute to BPD symptoms.
  • Early life trauma: Childhood trauma, such as physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, abandonment, neglect, or early loss of caregivers, is a significant risk factor for BPD. Traumatic experiences during critical periods of brain development can lead to disruptions in attachment, emotion regulation, and interpersonal functioning.
  • Environmental factors: Chronic stress, adverse life events, and unstable family environments can contribute to the development of BPD symptoms. Exposure to invalidating or inconsistent parenting styles, criticism, rejection, or interpersonal conflict may exacerbate BPD traits.
  • Co-occurring mental health conditions: BPD often co-occurs with other mental health disorders, such as mood disorders, anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, and eating disorders. Comorbid conditions may exacerbate BPD symptoms and complicate treatment outcomes.

Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline personality disorder is characterized by a range of symptoms that affect mood, behavior, self-image, and interpersonal relationships. 

There are several symptoms of BPD to watch for, such as:

  • Emotional instability: Intense and unstable emotions, including frequent mood swings and emotional dysregulation; episodes of intense anger, irritability, anxiety, or depression that may last for hours or days.
  • Unstable relationships: Difficulty maintaining stable and healthy relationships because of fear of abandonment, idealization, and devaluation of others. Intense and stormy interpersonal relationships characterized by conflict, impulsivity, and emotional volatility.
  • Impulsivity and risky behaviors: Impulsive behaviors in various areas of life, such as reckless driving, substance abuse, binge eating, or unsafe sex. Engaging in risky behaviors without consideration of consequences, leading to negative outcomes and potential harm.
  • Identity crisis: Unstable self-image or sense of self, often accompanied by feelings of emptiness or identity confusion. Difficulty establishing a coherent sense of identity or values, leading to frequent shifts in goals, values, or career aspirations.
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness: Persistent feelings of emptiness, boredom, or inner void that cannot be calmed by external factors. A sense of existential despair or numbness that may lead people with BPD to seek stimulation or distraction through impulsive behaviors.
  • Fear of abandonment: Intense fear of real or perceived abandonment by loved ones, leading to frantic efforts to avoid abandonment or rejection. Desperate attempts to maintain relationships, even at the expense of personal boundaries or self-respect.
  • Suicidal behavior and self-harm: Recurrent thoughts of suicide, suicidal ideation, or suicide attempts. Self-harming behaviors, such as cutting, burning, or other forms of self-injury, to cope with intense emotions or feel alive.

Types of Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline personality disorder manifests four subtypes, which are often diagnosed based on the patterns of behavior and symptoms related to that type.

BPD types include:

Discouraged 

People with discouraged borderline personality disorder, also known as quiet BPD, often struggle with feelings of worthlessness, inadequacy, and chronic emptiness. You may exhibit passive-aggressive behaviors and have difficulty asserting yourself or expressing your needs.

Symptoms of discouraged BPD may include pervasive feelings of hopelessness, self-doubt, and helplessness. You may also be prone to self-criticism, withdrawal from social interactions, and difficulty deciding or starting tasks.

Discouraged BPD can significantly impair your self-esteem, interpersonal relationships, and overall functioning. 

You may struggle to maintain employment, education, or stable housing because of feelings of inadequacy and difficulty coping with daily stressors.

Impulsive

Impulsive borderline personality disorder is marked by a pattern of reckless and self-destructive behaviors.

These may include:

  • Substance abuse
  • Binge eating
  • Reckless driving
  • Unsafe sexual practices
  • Self-harming 

People with this subtype may have difficulty controlling impulses and engage in impulsive acts without consideration of consequences.

Symptoms of impulsive BPD may include experiencing intense emotional dysregulation and frequent mood swings.

This subtype can cause significant life challenges like financial instability, relationship conflicts, and physical harm, causing chronic stress in daily life.

Petulant

Petulant borderline personality disorder is represented by a pattern of irritability, hostility, and defiance toward others. 

People with this subtype may exhibit a sense of entitlement, resentment, and a tendency to blame others for their problems. They may engage in frequent arguments and conflicts with others.

Symptoms of petulant BPD may include frequent outbursts of anger, moodiness, and a chronic sense of dissatisfaction. You may have difficulty regulating your emotions and may react impulsively to perceived slights or criticisms.

Without treatment, expressions of this subtype can strain relationships and lead to social isolation and conflict. You may also struggle to maintain stable employment or educational pursuits because of these symptoms. 

Self Destructive

Self-destructive borderline personality disorder is characterized by a pattern of self-harming behaviors and suicidal ideation. People with this type may engage in recurrent acts of self-harm, such as cutting, burning, or other forms of self-injury to cope with emotional distress.

Symptoms of self-destructive BPD may include recurrent suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, and non-suicidal self-injury. You may also experience intense emotional pain, feelings of emptiness, and a desire to escape from overwhelming emotions.

Residential treatment and support is often recommended to provide personal safety from self harm.

Effects of Untreated Borderline Personality Disorder

Untreated borderline personality disorder can have profound and far-reaching consequences on your life and overall well-being. 

Without supportive treatment, the symptoms of BPD can escalate and significantly affect daily life. 

Potential effects of untreated BPD:

  • Chronic emotional dysregulation
  • Increased interpersonal conflict and instability
  • Suicidal thoughts and attempts
  • Frequent self-harming behaviors, such as cutting, burning, or substance abuse
  • Impaired functioning, such as difficulty with concentration and attention and long-term memory issues
  • Executive function issues, such as planning, problem solving, and impulse control 
  • The development of other mental illnesses like bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, substance use disorders, and eating disorders

Treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder at Mark Behavioral Health

At Mark Behavioral Health, we understand the overwhelming feelings and complexities that can come with navigating borderline personality disorder. 

Therefore, we are committed to providing comprehensive, effective, and lasting treatment tailored to your individual needs. 

We offer an integrated approach that combines evidence-based therapies, supportive services, and personalized care to promote lasting recovery and improved quality of life for people with BPD. 

Trauma-Informed Care Approach

Trauma-informed care recognizes the impact of past trauma on your mental health and seeks to create a safe and supportive environment for healing.

This specialized treatment method addresses underlying trauma and helps you develop coping skills to manage distressing symptoms and improve emotional regulation.

Residential Programs

Our residential programs provide a structured and supportive environment where people with BPD can receive intensive treatment and support.

Residential programs offer round-the-clock care, including individual therapy, group therapy, medication management, and crisis intervention, to address the complex needs of BPD.

Crisis Stabilization

Crisis stabilization services provide immediate support and intervention during periods of acute distress or crisis.

It can help you manage intense emotions, reduce self-harming behaviors, and prevent escalation of crisis situations.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a structured therapy that focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviors.

This type of psychotherapy can help people with BPD develop:

  • Adaptive coping strategies
  • Challenges to maladaptive beliefs
  • Skills to regulate emotions 
  • Ways to improve interpersonal relationships

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a specialized form of therapy designed specifically for individuals with BPD. It combines cognitive-behavioral techniques with mindfulness practices as well as validation and acceptance strategies.

When managing BPD, DBT can help you build stress tolerance, emotion regulation, interpersonal connections, and mindfulness skills to cope with intense emotions and reduce impulsive behaviors.

Group Therapy

Group therapy provides a supportive and validating environment where people with BPD can connect with peers, share experiences, and learn from each other.

It fosters a sense of belonging, reduces feelings of isolation, and provides opportunities for skill-building, social support, and validation.

Grief Therapy

Grief therapy is a type of talk therapy that helps people process and cope with loss, including the loss of relationships, identity, and hope.

In 1-on-1 and group settings, this form of treatment provides a safe space for people with BPD to: 

  • Explore and express their feelings of grief and loss
  • Develop lasting coping strategies 
  • Feel validated and supported 
  • Connect with a supportive community that understands their grieving
  • Find healing and meaning in life amid your loss

Sexual Trauma Therapy

Sexual trauma therapy addresses the impact of past sexual abuse or assault on your mental health and well-being.

A trained therapist can help you work through trauma-related symptoms, build resilience, and restore a sense of safety and empowerment.

Nutritional Counseling

Nutritional counseling addresses the connection between diet, mental health, and emotional regulation, helping people with BPD enhance their physical health and mood stability.

As a holistic treatment, nutritional counseling provides education and support that empowers and guides you to make healthy dietary decisions, which can increase the effectiveness of other treatment methods.

Top Resources for Florida Residents Facing Borderline Personality Disorder 

Living with borderline personality disorder can be difficult, but you’re not alone. 

Here are a few BPD mental healthcare services you can access to get the support you need now:

Get High Quality Care for Borderline Personality Disorder in Florida

If you or a family member are currently navigating the challenges of borderline personality disorder, holistic and personalized treatment is here for you.

At Mark Behavioral Health, we understand the impact this condition can have on your life, relationships, and overall well-being. 

Our compassionate team of healthcare providers are dedicated to providing you with high-quality care and support so you can learn how to manage BPD and its symptoms.

Frequently Asked Questions

How is borderline personality disorder diagnosed?

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is typically diagnosed by mental health professionals, such as psychiatrists or psychologists, through a comprehensive assessment. It includes a review of symptoms, personal and medical history, and clinical interviews. 

Diagnostic criteria outlined in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition) are used to determine whether an individual meets the criteria for BPD.

What are signs of borderline personality disorder?

Signs and symptoms of borderline personality disorder can vary among people. 

 

However, there are several signs and symptoms to look out for:

  • Intense and unstable relationships
  • Fear of abandonment
  • Impulsive behaviors, such as reckless driving or substance abuse
  • Emotional instability and mood swings
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • Recurrent self-harming behaviors
  • Identity disturbance
  • Intense and inappropriate anger
  • Dissociative symptoms under stress
How many people have borderline personality disorder?

Approximately 1.6% of adults in the United States have borderline personality disorder. Roughly 65% of people with this condition are currently getting treatment.

Can you cure borderline personality disorder permanently?

While there is no known cure for borderline personality disorder, effective treatment and support can help you manage symptoms, improve functioning, and lead a fulfilling life.

Treatment approaches such as psychotherapy, medication management, and supportive services can reduce symptom severity, enhance coping skills, and promote recovery.

Further Reading

  1. Our Services
  2. Residential Treatment Program
  3. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  4. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
  5. Grief Therapy
  6. Nutritional Counseling
  7. Psychoeducation
  8. Sexual Trauma Therapy
  9. Trauma Informed Care

Sources

American Psychiatric Associations. “What are Personality Disorders?” Retrieved from:
https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/personality-disorders/what-are-personality-disorders
Cleveland Clinic. “Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).” Retrieved from:
https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9762-borderline-personality-disorder-bpd
Frontiers in Psychology. “Impaired decision-making in borderline personality disorder.” Retrieved from:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10436614/
Johns Hopkins University. “Borderline Personality Disorder.” Retrieved from:
https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/borderline-personality-disorder
National Institute of Health. “Borderline Personality Disorder.” Retrieved from:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430883/
National Library of Medicine. “Diagnosing borderline personality disorder.” Retrieved from:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3494330/
National Mental Health Institute. “Borderline Personality Disorder.” Retrieved from:
https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/borderline-personality-disorder
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “Borderline Personality Disorder.” Retrieved from:
https://www.samhsa.gov/mental-health/borderline-personality-disorder