Borderline Personality Disorder

By Samantha Dewitt|Updated May 2, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Whitney White, MS. CMHC, NCC., LPC

Are you or someone you care about living with borderline personality disorder (BPD)? In this article you'll learn about the basics of what Borderline Personality Disorder is, symptoms to look for, and the types of therapies used to treat it.

Therapy Can Be Tailored To Your Specific Circumstances

What Is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Borderline personality disorder(BPD) causes an individual to experience a very intense fear of being abandoned or of any type of instability. They tend to be extremely frightened or concerned about being alone, and this causes them to react in extreme ways. Someone with borderline personality disorder may be angry, impulsive, or have frequent mood swings because of these fears. In a completely unfortunate but contrary way, these behaviors can push people away even further, though the individual doesn't want this to happen.

Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder

When it comes to the symptoms of this disorder, there are several them that you might experience. As we already mentioned, someone with this disorder will generally have a very strong fear of being abandoned and will go to any lengths to ensure that they won't be rejected or left alone. They may have unstable relationships as a result of these feelings, and they may have to change goals or values for themselves. Paranoia, or a lack of connection with reality, impulsive behavior, risky behavior, suicidal threats or recklessness, self-injury, mood swings, inappropriate behaviors or anger, and a great deal more could occur in some manner for someone with this disorder.

This isn't an exhaustive list of symptoms, and symptoms may present in any number of combinations, levels of severity, and ways at any given time. Each person will experience the disorder differently. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should speak with their trusted doctor or a mental health professional to be evaluated.

Where It Comes From

There are many different theories about where exactly this disorder comes from and why you may develop it. In general, most assume that there is a genetic component as well as a brain development component that contributes to the development of this disorder. Some research shows a hereditary link in families with this disorder. Changes in areas of the brain that are responsible for impulsivity and aggression as well as the regulation of emotions could contribute to this disorder.

Stress or trauma in childhood can increase the risk factors of someone developing this disorder as well. This means children who are sexually or physically abused or children who are neglected may be at higher risk. Those who have lost their parents or who have lived with parents who experience substance abuse or mental health issues of their own also have a higher risk.

Treatment for BPD

When it comes to getting treatment, both medication and therapy are used to manage symptoms, although some choose to use them in combination or alone. Issues like suicidal ideation and self-injury can create the need for short term hospitalization with borderline personality disorder. If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, seek immediate help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.

It’s important to note that someone with this disorder is still able to live a healthy life when they seek and engage in treatment. There are several therapy modalities that help with the disorder, so speaking with a mental health professional about options is helpful in determining what treatment will work best.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

This is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy designed specifically to treat borderline personality disorder, and it helps patients learn to tolerate intense emotions. In this type of therapy, the individual learns coping skills that will help them figure out how to react more effectively when they are in a difficult situation or when they feel strong emotions rising. There is emphasis placed on interpersonal skills to help with conflict management in relationships, and on mindfulness to aid in the tolerance of distress caused by intense emotions. Research has shown this therapy to be very effective in the treatment of borderline personality disorder.

Schema-Focused Therapy

This type of therapy looks at the participant’s childhood, and the way that an unhealthy childhood can lead to an unhealthy development of ideas, attitudes, and thinking about the world around them. The goal of this type of therapy is to look at the beliefs that the individual has that are unhealthy, and to work on changing those beliefs to make them more positive. It looks at thoughts, behaviors, and more, and seeks to change the understanding that a person has developed in the past to something healthy for their future.

Mentalization-Based Therapy

With this type of therapy, you focus on your thoughts and feelings, but also on the thoughts and feelings of other people. It's about recognizing how different thoughts or different types of feelings can contribute to different reactions and behaviors. It's also about recognizing how the behaviors of one person can impact the behaviors of another. In this way, it's possible to work on changing the thoughts to change out the behaviors that the person engages in. This means that individual's behaviors will then impact someone else's.

Therapy Can Be Tailored To Your Specific Circumstances

Medication may be important for someone with borderline personality disorder. Medication can't treat an underlying personality disorder, but it can alleviate some of the symptoms. These types of medications are designed to work on the symptoms and some of the side effects that go along with this disorder rather than treating the disorder itself. When used with therapy, they can help with symptom management as new skills are learned in the therapy process. The most common types of medications that are used include antidepressants, antipsychotics, anxiolytics, and mood stabilizers. You should discuss all potential medication options with your doctor beforehand to avoid any negative side effects.

Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder With BetterHelp

Recent research suggests that online therapy can be an effective treatment for those experiencing symptoms of borderline personality disorder. In a comprehensive review published in Frontiers in Psychiatry, researchers looked at the efficacy of online therapy when treating BPD. They note that despite the fact that BPD is a prevalent condition, it is under treated. Online therapy, they state, can bridge that treatment gap by making trained psychotherapists more readily available to those who live with borderline personality disorder but do not have access to mental health professionals in their area. It is also a way of providing self-help materials, so that participants can reinforce important concepts or develop useful skills outside of sessions. Online therapy also bridges the treatment gap by circumventing other barriers, such as high costs, geographic and time constraints, and perceived stigma.

As discussed above, if you’re living with borderline personality disorder, online counseling can help provide you with valuable tools to manage your symptoms. With online therapy through BetterHelp, you can easily make or modify appointments online or through the app. Without coordinating with your therapist weeks or months ahead of time, you can quickly and painlessly create a schedule that works for you. A licensed counselor can help you confront complex emotions arising out of BPD. Read below for counselor reviews, from those who have sought help in the past.

Counselor Reviews

“Loretta has undoubtedly changed my life. In my late attempt to deal with trauma she has shown me the light at the end of the tunnel. Through various strategies and methods she has provided me, I have become less paranoid, guilt-ridden, and anxious. I am so glad I decided to start using BetterHelp and was paired with Loretta.”

“I cant speak highly enough about David. I came to BetterHelp about 3 months ago with severe PTSD that was ruining my life and my relationships. In a short time I began to learn better and healthier coping mechanisms, tools to stop and change thought patterns and find a new sense of peace and confidence. What a difference. I would recommend David to anyone that may be seeking help from trauma and anxiety, he is very good.”


There are therapists available in person or online who specialize in the treatment of borderline personality disorder. Finding a therapist that you feel comfortable with is crucial to the success of therapy, so working with a therapist who knows how to address your specific concerns is important. No matter what type of treatment you seek, know that there is help out there. Remember that you don’t have to face a difficult disorder like BPD alone. Take the first step today.

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