Borderline Personality Disorder

People with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) often have trouble dealing with everyday situations and interactions. It's not always easy to deal with, but there are things you can do to help. Start by getting the facts on the signs, symptoms and causes of BPD.

You might find this useful if:

  • Your emotions are generally much more intense than those around you
  • Your mood changes all the time
  • You're feeling lost or abandoned
  • You often behave in a risky way
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What is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)?

Personality disorders  are a type of mental disorder where someone’s personality traits, such as their thoughts, feelings and behaviours, are extreme and cause distress and dysfunction in their everyday lives. 

BPD in particular, causes someone to consistently have really intense emotions, and they will often struggle when it comes to relating to and interacting with other people, and the world around them. As a result, it’s often really difficult and distressing for them to cope with things in their everyday lives in the same way that someone without BPD would.

Signs and symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder

Someone with BPD may experience just a few, or all, of these common signs and symptoms:
  • Extreme or unstable emotions to the point where they interfere with their everyday lives. They might feel fine one second and then really angry or upset the next. 

  • Unstable relationships. The extreme and unstable emotions, together with some of the other signs and symptoms, can make it really hard for someone with BPD to develop stable relationships with the people around them.  

  • Deep insecurity. It’s common for someone with BPD to feel like they don’t really know who they are, or what their place in the world is. They’re also often afraid of being abandoned.

  • Impulsiveness and risky behaviour. Everyone gets urges, but people with BPD will commonly find it really hard to not act on their urges. This could include doing things like abusing alcohol and other drugs or having trouble when it comes to managing their money. 

  • Constantly feeling confused. Someone with BPD might find that they’re always changing their mind about things, whether it’s about how they feel towards the people around them, or about other parts of their lives like their goals, ambitions, or sexuality. 

  • Self-harm. In some cases, people with BPD self-harm as a way of coping with strong feelings and emotions. There are lots of ways and reasons why people self-harm. It could be a suicide attempt, or it could be acting on risky urges. Generally, it’s a way of expressing emotional pain. Check out our factsheet on self-harm for more info. 

What causes Borderline Personality Disorder?

Like with many personality disorders, the causes of BPD aren’t fully understood. However, most professionals think that it’s caused by a combination of things, like:
  • Genes
  • Past abuse or trauma
  • A dysfunctional family life
  • Negative or difficult interactions with others during childhood.
Keep in mind that not all people who have BPD have experienced these things, or will develop BPD because of them. At the same time, not all people who do experience these things will develop BPD. It’s different for everyone. 

What to do about Borderline Personality Disorder?

If you’re experiencing some of the signs of BPD and are having a rough time coping it’s worth having a chat with a professional to work out what might be going on. It can be really hard to manage on your own, which is why seeking help is important. The best ways to deal with BPD are: 

  • Psychological therapy such as Interpersonal therapy (where people learn more effective ways of relating to the people in their life) or Dialectical behavioural therapy (where they will learn how to manage their emotions, and appropriate ways to  respond to people and situations).

  • Support from family, friends and community groups.

  • Medication if necessary (seek advice from your mental health professional).
Along with professionals, talking to trusted friends and family members can help you come up with positive ways of thinking and dealing with BPD. 

It can be hard to know where to find the right support you need. ReachOut NextStep is an anonymous online tool that recommends relevant support options based on what you want help with. Try ReachOut NextStep to learn about the support options available for you.

What can I do now?

Last reviewed: 04 March, 2016
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  • Ben-RO    (19 days ago)

    Hi Daris, Thank you for sharing this experience with us here at ReachOut, we're glad our website helped a little.

  • Daris    (30 days ago)

    We have a beautiful 25 year old daughter who we now realise has suffered from BPD since around 14. It has been a long and tiresome journey trying to understand her behaviours and know what is best to do. Fortunately we have now found a great course for carers through the SANE website. Its called Family Connections and runs at Alma St Clinic in Fremantle on Tuesdays for 12 weeks. We are finally beginning to truly understand the nature of her illness and how to respond in more helpful ways as well as keep ourselves more sane in the process. Thanks for this website.David and Iris

  • ruenhonx    (701 days ago)

    Hi @Raevival

    You are a very caring mum and it must be difficult on you as well. This might be helpful for you and your son and also

    I hope these are helpful and don't forget to take care of yourself as well.

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