By Dr. Raymond Martin

borderline personality disorder in adolescentsThe symptoms of borderline personality disorder can be extremely confusing even if a person is diagnosed in adulthood. If your teen has just been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder it can be extremely difficult to know exactly what to do as a parent or what to expect as your adolescent child borders into adulthood.

A great deal of research is available for borderline personality symptoms in adults. Unfortunately, however, there has been little research actually completed about teenagers suffering from the same condition. Many psychiatric evaluators and mental health professionals would prefer not to diagnose teens with BPD as it is still a relatively new adolescent diagnosis.

The top symptoms of borderline personality disorder include:

  • Signs of self harm
  • Explosive bouts of anger
  • Destructive behavior
  • Unstable self image
  • Ongoing fear of abandonment
  • Instability in relationships
  • A feeling of being suspicious of reality
  • A chronic emptiness

If your child starts to exhibit some of these symptoms it could be an indication of a mental health condition or potentially borderline personality disorder. Making sure to regularly check in with your adolescent child to see how they are feeling day to day and recording some of these responses will help to make sure that you can recognize signs of mental distress and potentially get an early diagnosis for this condition. Forming a treatment plan with the help of a mental health professional can ensure your child has the answers and the support that they need to find assistance with their BPD. Regular therapy sessions for BPD will help to manage some of the symptoms and pharmaceutical solutions could also provide help especially with conditions which are co-occurring.

Common co-occurring disorders for BPD:

Often with BPD other symptoms or mental health conditions can be diagnosed alongside borderline personality disorder. These secondary disorders can often come as a result of BPD symptoms or inflame the symptoms of BPD. Common co occurring disorders include:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Bipolar disorders
  • Depression
  • Substance abuse
  • Eating disorders
  • and more.

With successful ongoing mental health treatment is possible that BPD and these other symptoms can get better. The problem that many mental-health professionals face is finding a way to successfully treat the symptoms of a co-occurring disorder like depression while still managing Borderline Personality Disorder.

The main causes:

Some of the main causes of BPD in the brain usually comes from neural pathways which change the way that our primitive survival instincts handle situations. When a brain is sent into high alert often this can place extra stress on a person as well as hijack the way that a typical person may think it a non-stressful situation. Through rigorous mental health treatment it is possible to create new mental health pathways and coping mechanisms to handle the symptoms of BPD. This is why early diagnosis is so important in adolescents as it is possible with dedication and time to change the way that a person acts, feels and thinks when BPD symptoms are present.

Forming new patterns in feelings, behaviors and personality will require either counseling intervention or pharmaceutical intervention. In the case of parents, BPD can require some support at home such as strategies for mitigating negative symptoms and taking responsibility for creating new patterns of positive behavior. By setting up an a more fully supportive environment with plenty to do in the case of an emergency, parents can work in a two-pronged approach with mental health care workers to bring support at home and at treatment for their adolescent with BPD.