1 in 25 adults are struggling with some form of mental illness. It is estimated that between 1 and 4% of the population in the United States are affected by Borderline Personality Disorder at some time in their life. If you have been recently diagnosed or know someone who has, you may be feeling scared and overwhelmed. It is important that we arm ourselves with information about the disorder to help empower ourselves and loved ones to seek help.
Both men and women commonly struggle with BPD. Nearly 75% of people diagnosed with BPD are women, although research suggests that men may be equally affected by the disorder but are commonly misdiagnosed with PTSD or depression.
In addition, a recent study in the Journal of Clinical Psychology confirmed that BPD is a common co-occurring disorder with alcohol and substance abuse. It is estimated that nearly half of those with BPD have a history of a substance abuse disorder. Both men and women commonly struggle with BPD. Nearly 75% of people diagnosed with BPD are women although research suggests that men may be equally affected by the disorder, but are commonly misdiagnosed with PTSD or depression.
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental health condition listed in the DSM-5, a manual of mental disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). BPD is characterized by having extreme difficulty with emotional regulation. People with borderline personality disorder experience intense emotions for extended periods and struggle with bringing themselves back to a place of baseline stability after emotionally triggering events.
According to the DSM-5, people with BPD experience a pervasive pattern of instability within personal relationships, self-image, and affect. The symptoms of BPD affect one’s abilities at work, in social settings, and the completion of everyday tasks.
Over the year’s studies have shown that having any psychiatric disorder increases the risk of having a substance use disorder. Depending upon the mental health disorder criteria, some mental health diagnoses put individuals at greater risk of dependency issues with alcohol or drug abuse than others. Personality disorders carry a greater risk than either mood or anxiety disorders for the individual to develop a drug and alcohol addiction and anorexia nervosa, binge eating/purging type disorder. It is essential to acknowledge when you may be struggling with mental health and substance abuse and seek the appropriate dual diagnosis treatment.
Another feature of BPD is a tendency for self-harming behavior such as cutting. BPD patients are prone to experiencing recurrent suicidal behaviors, gestures, and threats. Suicide rates in the U.S are amongst the highest in those with BPD occurring in upwards of 10% of individuals diagnosed.
The science of what causes BPD is not yet fully understood, but researchers at the National Institute of Mental health can agree that there are some main contributing factors
Genetics: There is no specific gene profile that correlates with causing BPD directly, but research suggests those with a close family member who also has BPD may be at higher risk of developing the mental illness
Environmental Factors: Those who experience early childhood trauma, included but not limited to physical and sexual abuse, abandonment, grief, and loss- are at increased risk of developing BPD and related behavioral addictions.
Brain Function: Research shows that the portions of the brain that control emotions and decision-making may not communicate optimally with one another in patients with BPD.
While borderline personality disorder is not curable, it is treatable. A wide array of therapies and modalities have proven effective in decreasing symptoms and negative side effects. These include.
Psychotherapy: also called talk therapy, is a treatment approach that helps the individual learn to manage uncomfortable emotions, reduce impulsiveness, work on interpersonal relationships, and provide knowledge and education about BPD.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT): DBT is a treatment approach that helps individuals learn to gain and utilize emotional coping skills and tools to build distress tolerance. DBT skill-building helps individuals gain confidence, improve relationships, and self-actualize.
Medications: Consulting with a psychiatrist or mental health provider may help with finding an individualized medication regimen and treatment plan that helps combat negative symptoms of BPD such as anxiety, depressions, and mood swings
The recovery process takes time and patience. It’s ok that progress may be made in small steps. Opening to the possibility of receiving services can be a powerful start. Acknowledging your symptoms and finding yourself the appropriate team professionals, mental health assistance, or addiction treatment providers could be the way to save your life or that of your loved one. Many treatment programs offer residential, outpatient, and sober living services to help get you started in your recovery.
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