What Is Borderline Personality Disorder?

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borderline personality disorder (BPD) occurs in approximately 2% of the population. It is a disorder in which a person has a pattern of unstable personal relationships, a self-image that is not well formed, and poor impulse control in areas such as spending, sexual conduct, driving, eating, and substance abuse. Additionally, the person suffering from BPD fears abandonment and will go to any length to prevent this. They feel chronic emptiness.

One of the hallmarks of BPD is known as “splitting”. This is where the person with BPD will swing between idealizing and devaluing people in relationships. They will pit people against one another, making one group the “white hats” and the other the “black hats”. A person is either good or bad, the person with BPD being unable to reconcile that there is both good and bad within a person. And this categorization of a person may shift from day to day, the person being good one day and bad the next.

There may be suicidal threats, gestures or attempts made by the person with BPD. There may also be self-mutilation that occurs. Their mood may be very prone to outside stress, with feelings of depression and anger readily provoked, with anxiety also a common occurrence. With extreme stress, the person with BPD may experience paranoid ideation, or may have dissociative symptoms such as “running on automatic” and disconnecting from reality.

The treatment for BPD may consist of medication and therapy. antidepressants may help with depression while specific SSRI’s (prozac, zoloft, etc) may help with impulse control. mood stabilizers (antiepileptics such as tegretol, depakote) can help with mood swings and irritability. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and the related Dialectical Behavior Therapy are the two most common therapies used in the treatment of BPD.

Derek Wood is a Nationally Board Certified Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse, and holds a Master's degree in Psychology. His experience in the online arena of mental health can be traced back to 1997, when he was a host for Online Psych on AOL. He joined Get Mental Help, Inc. as Clinical Content Director for Mental Health Matters. Derek, with his wife Lisa, developed the original version of psychTracker (then called A Mood Journal), after his diagnosis with Schizo-Affective Bipolar, when they could not find a system available that was robust enough to help him effectively manage his symptoms and accurately interpret his charting. Derek has worked in the field of mental health since 2001, as a Unit Manager of an adult long-term treatment facility, a charge nurse in an adolescent short-term inpatient facility and long-term residential facility, and as a School Psychologist. He has also written several articles which are being used as CEU for nurses and educators.

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