The Truth About Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a form of mental illness that is often stigmatized and misunderstood. It’s a complex condition characterized by symptoms such as mood swings, poor impulse control and difficulties in relationships. A person with BPD often tries to cope with stormy emotions and an unclear sense of self with self-harm, suicidal tendencies or substance abuse.
There are many misconceptions about BPD. It’s important to get past fictionalized beliefs about this disorder to reduce stigma and allow those who have this condition to obtain the treatment they deserve without having to deal with inaccurate and harmful beliefs.
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Fiction: People with BPD are incapable of love.
Fact: People with BPD are capable of giving and receiving love.
People with BPD have a lot of difficulty in relationships, but that doesn’t mean they’re incapable of love. Unstable emotions often lead to unstable relationships, while black-and-white thinking may make a person with BPD push people away when there is evidence their partner has flaws. Volatile emotional reactivity is a sign of psychiatric illness in need of treatment, but not of being incapable of loving and relating to others in a healthy way.
Fiction: People with BPD are just manipulative and want attention.
Fact: People with BPD aren’t deliberately choosing emotional turbulence or behavior that may be considered abnormal.
A person with BPD is often overcome with intense emotions, such as fear of abandonment, resulting in actions that are often impulsive rather than thought out. They have little control over their own emotions or impulsivity, which means behavior that may seem manipulative is really a symptom of BPD.
Self-harm and suicidal behaviors may be misinterpreted as efforts to get attention. In reality, these behaviors are evidence of poor coping skills and uncontrollable emotions that are characteristic of BPD.
Behaviors that are perceived as manipulative are often ineffective attempts at regulating emotions or getting needs met.
Fiction: BPD is only found in women.
Fact: BPD is found in both women and men.
It’s true that more women than men are diagnosed with this disorder. This doesn’t necessarily mean that BPD is more common in women than men. There’s a good possibility that men who exhibit symptoms of BPD are misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder or substance use disorder.
Fiction: BPD is a rare disorder.
Fact: More than one out of every 100 people have this condition.
BPD is much more common than people may think. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 1.6 percent of people in the United States have this condition, but the number could actually be more than 5 percent.
Fiction: BPD is an untreatable condition.
Fact: Effective treatment can help a person with BPD learn new coping skills.
When a person gets a diagnosis of BPD, it doesn’t mean they’ll struggle with symptoms of this disorder forever. Treatment can help reduce the severity of symptoms and improve their quality of life.
One of the most effective forms of treatment is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). This type of therapy has been found to help many people with BPD for whom other forms of therapy have not worked. In DBT, the patient is encouraged to work out problems that may come up in their relationship with their therapist and work to identify thoughts and beliefs that may be making life harder. They’ll also do homework assignments, which include practicing the many skills they learn in groups toward improving relationships and regulating emotions.
Although DBT is very effective in treating BPD, there are other types of therapy that may be used to treat this condition. These include mentalization therapy, schema therapy, transference-focused psychotherapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy. Participating in family therapy can benefit the patient and all members of the family.
It’s not a myth that living with BPD can be challenging. It’s important to know that it’s possible to gradually learn better coping skills and to lead a life that’s worth living.
If you or a loved one are struggling with borderline personality disorder, please contact us at (855) 409-0204 or submit the form below and a treatment specialist will contact you.
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Since 2004, Lori has worked with the behavioral health treatment community to bring awareness about mental health disorders and evidence-based treatments. Lori strives to help people better understand mental illness and provide support to those needing help and their families. As a mental health advocate, Lori works to be a voice for those suffering from borderline personality disorder, depression, anxiety, trauma, or any other disorder.