Helping Parents, Families, & Caregivers

Borderline Personality Disorder: 10 Major Signs & Symptoms

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a topic you can find almost anywhere on the Internet. There are over a million articles, blogs, podcasts, etc. on this topic. It is a very difficult topic to get away from. In fact, there are times I think the topic of BPD is as popular as the topic of narcissism.

Are you wondering why this topic is to popular. If so, join the club of many, many families, spouses, children, extended family, friends, etc. who remain shocked by the number of people they encounter who display characteristics.

This article will review some of the main symptoms/personality traits of  someone diagnosed with BPD.

I often tell clients that BPD is not a mental illness but rather a constellation of personality traits that have become very ingrained over time. Like trying to unbend metal, understanding and treating BPD will take some time.

One of the main challenges I have seen in practice with individuals diagnosed with BPD is an inability to “measure” their emotional reactions to things that trigger them.

What are the symptoms that create major challenges in relationships?

I once had an adolescent female who would lash out in complete rages if her mother commented (positively or negatively) on her clothing, especially before she left for school. It took us about 10 sessions before she could identify why her mother’s comments triggered her. Sadly, most individuals with BPD find it difficult let things go.

For another one of my clients, a negative statement, a rolling of the eyes from someone, or even a small slight on the road while drying could lead to long hours of screaming, yelling, and emotional fits. An event that would cause most people to get frustrated and then move on, would cause her hours of emotional distress.

10 important signs and symptoms of BPD to focus on in treatment include but are not limited to:

  1. Impulsivity and risk taking
  2. Depressed mood and dysphoria
  3. Stormy, intense, short-lived relationships
  4. Intense emotional bonds that are often formed out of loneliness or fear of abandonment
  5. Identity/personality confusion
  6. Nebulous thinking, poor decision-making abilities, confusion
  7. Behaviors that may come across as intentional and manipulative
  8. Lack of insight into behaviors that negatively affect others
  9. Desperate attempts to fit in, be liked, be loved, or cared for
  10. Dangerous behaviors that are risky such as engaging in pornography, multiple sexual encounters, prostitution, substance abuse including selling of drugs, etc.

Call to action

Most people with BPD remain confused about their symptoms, even after years of therapy. Some of my previous clients remained confused, for years, about why they could not experience their emotions in ways that did not lead to suicidal thinking, suicide attempts, self-injurious behaviors (i.e., such as cutting, burning, scratching, etc), or severe emotional distress. Most individuals with BPD struggle to identify the culprit and “that thing” that creates chronic relational distress.

What has been your experience with this topic? Do you know someone who may need support, education, or guidance?

Feel free to post your responses, questions, or experiences below. If you would like to send me an audio message, navigate to the front page of my website and scroll to the bottom.

As always, I wish you well