Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a type of mental illness that is characterized by continuous changes in mood, function, behavior and self-image. A person who suffers from BPD may experience a series of intense moods like anger, anxiety and depression that can last as little as a few hours to as long as a few days at a time. As a result, the condition can cause friction in the individual’s relationships and the person may act impulsively.
Usually, BPD will manifest in a person during their adolescence as they grow from being a teen to a young adult. However, it usually improves as the individual ages. Additionally, many who suffer from BPD can get better over time thanks to treatment and the condition doesn’t have to take over their lives.
Signs and Symptoms
When a young person has BPD, it is truly a struggle because the condition affects how they feel, how they behave and how they relate to other people. Some of the most common signs and symptoms include the following:
- Strong fear of abandonment and going to extremes to avoid actual rejection or separation, whether it is real or just imagined
- Instability in relationships and idealizing a person one minute and then thinking that same person is callous and cruel
- Frequent changes in self-image and identity, such as shifting values and personal goals
- Seeing oneself as bad or nonexistent
- Paranoia and losing touch with reality, which can last a few minutes or even hours
- Impulsive and risky behavior that can lead to habits like unsafe sex, gambling, drug abuse, binge eating, abruptly quitting a good job, ending a good relationship, going on shopping sprees or reckless driving
- Self-injury, suicidal actions or threats due to fear of rejection or separation
- Fluctuating moods that can include an intense feeling of anxiety, happiness, shame or anger. These moods typically last anywhere from a few hours to several days at a time
- A continuous feeling of emptiness
- Intense and inappropriate anger, losing one’s temper, being sarcastic or getting into physical fights
When to Take Your Child to a Doctor
If you are the parent of an adolescent who has been exhibiting a combination of the symptoms of BPD, it’s wise to take him or her to a doctor. However, bear in mind that your child may battle you against having to go see a doctor.
BPD can be difficult to treat because symptoms can come and go. Additionally, those affected by the disorder tend to have troubled relationships, which can include their relationships with doctors and therapists. The most common forms of treatment are long term so as to enable the individual to better manage their emotions and reduce behaviors that are harmful. Treatment may include the following:
- Therapy: The most important thing is to find your child a counselor that they trust and with whom they can build a stable relationship. Of course, this may be challenging because BPD causes a person to see a person positively one minute and negatively the next. This can happen when the counselor asks your adolescent to try to change his or her behavior. It’s a good idea to find a counselor who is specialized in dialectical behavioral therapy because they are more skilled at treating the disorder. Inpatient treatment at a group home can be especially helpful to teens with BPD.
- Medication: Some medicines, such as mood stabilizers, antidepressants and antipsychotics can help when combined with counseling.
- Healthy Habits: Encourage your teen to get enough sleep, eat healthy food, exercise daily and not use alcohol or drugs. These healthy habits can make BPD symptoms less severe and can help to ease anxiety.
Causes and Risk Factors
Although the exact causes of BPD are not fully understood, research has shown that there may be a combination of factors that increase one’s risk of developing the disorder. They are as follows:
- Genetics: If a person has a close family member who suffers from BPD, they are five times more likely to develop the disorder as well.
- Brain Abnormalities: Research has shown that people who have BPD have certain function and structural changes in their brains, particularly in the areas that control regulation of emotions and impulses.
- Environmental and Social Factors: Some people with BPD claim to have experienced trauma in their early life, such as being abandoned in childhood or being abused.
If your teen suffers from borderline personality disorder and you want to get help, one of the best options is to come to Centered Health. Your child will get therapy and other treatment that they desperately need to live as normal a life as possibl