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
Converse shoes standing on a wall

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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8 Comments

  • Ben-RO    (61 days ago)

    Hey @Mothers_love. That sounds incredibly troubling, and also frustrating to see this happening and feel somewhat helpless to intervene. I think this issue faces a little more complexity than we can tackle in the comments section of an article though. So i'd like to encourage you to pop onto the Parent's forums over here: https://forums.parents.au.reachout.com/t5/Teenagers-everyday-issues-mental/bd-p/Discussconcerns

  • Mothers_love    (63 days ago)

    My daughter told me she has been diagnosed with BPD. But I believe she's being manipulated to act that way in order to control her interactions with her family. Her carer used to be her partner. They broke up, but he's still her carer. He encouraged her to mistrust her family. He also tells her what to do in just about every aspect of her life. I see that he's not interested in allowing her to manage and overcome her BPD but that he wants to keep her that way so he can control her, and he's the one who controls her medicine doses. How do I help her grow stronger?

  • Mothers_love    (63 days ago)

    My daughter told me she has been diagnosed with BPD. But I believe she's being manipulated to act that way in order to control her interactions with her family. Her carer used to be her partner. They broke up, but he's still her carer. He encouraged her to mistrust her family. He also tells her what to do in just about every aspect of her life. I see that he's not interested in allowing her to manage and overcome her BPD but that he wants to keep her that way so he can control her, and he's the one who controls her medicine doses. How do I help her grow stronger?

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