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Borderline Personality Disorder

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Borderline personality disorder is a type of depression characterized by extreme mood swings (feeling happy one day and in the depths of despair the next), poor self-image, difficulties with making new relationships, turbulence in existing relationships, self-harm, fear of being alone, addictions and believing in things or seeing things that aren’t real (delusions and hallucinations).

To be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, you must have at least five symptoms of the disorder. Some of the symptoms could be caused by other things, for instance, a marriage breakup or death, resulting in reactive depression.

This is why doctors suggest a minimum of five symptoms, so that they don’t diagnose someone with a personality disorder when they are merely having a normal emotional response to trauma.

The diagnosis of borderline personality disorder is controversial as some professionals believe it puts a negative stigma on the patient and results in discrimination against disabled people.

Borderline Personality Today wrote:

"What’s in a name? In the disability community this question is a hot topic. In fact, the use of negative language has proven time after time to be a major influence on individual and public attitudes towards people with disabilities and as Dahl asserts often constitutes 'a major barrier for people with disabilities'. However, despite progress being made to use less stigmatizing disability terms, psychiatry has not kept up with these changes.’

Alternative names for the condition that have been suggested include emotional intensity disorder, emotional deregulation disorder and emotional regulation disorder.

Risk Factors

People who are more at risk of getting the condition are:

• People who have family members with borderline personality disorder
• Survivors of childhood abuse
• Survivors of childhood neglect or abandonment.


Borderline personality disorder can be temporary and is not necessarily an inherent trait of someone’s personality, as its name suggests. Patients can respond to treatment and get better.

The main treatment is psychotherapy. One type of psychotherapy is called dialectical behavior therapy and teaches you how to regulate your emotions and handle distress so as to improve your life and relationships. This is normally done in one-to-one therapy, group therapy sessions and on the phone.

Another type of psychotherapy is transference-focused psychotherapy where you look at your relationship with your therapist and learn new skills through that, which you can then use in your relationships with family, friends and work colleagues.


Sometimes antidepressant or anti-anxiety medications may be offered to help with depression, anxiety and impulsive behavior.

Hospital Care

If your condition is serious or you are having thoughts of self-harm or suicide, you will be hospitalized to keep you safe and also so you can have access to an inpatient mental health team and a more intensified treatment program.

Help and Support

Please contact:
Borderline Personality Disorder Resource Center
NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital - Westchester Division
21 Bloomingdale Rd.
White Plains, New York 10605.
Phone: 888-694-2273
Email: [email protected]


1. What is Borderline Personality Disorder? Mind. Web. 29 September 2011. http://www.mind.org.uk/help/diagnoses_and_conditions/borderline_personality_disorder#What%20is

2. Borderline Personality Disorder Label Creates Stigma, What’s in a Name? BPD Today. Web. 29 September 2011. http://www.borderlinepersonalitytoday.com/main/label.htm

3. Borderline Personality Disorder: Proposal to include a supplementary name in the DSM-IV text revision, BPD Today. Web. 29 September 2011. http://www.borderlinepersonalitytoday.com/main/name_change.htm

4. Borderline Personality Disorder, Treatment and Drugs, Mayo Clinic. Web. 29 September 2011. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/borderline-personality-disorder/DS00442/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs

Joanna is a freelance health writer for The Mother magazine and Suite 101 with a column on infertility, http://infertility.suite101.com/. She is author of the book, 'Breast Milk: A Natural Immunisation,' and co-author of an educational resource on disabled parenting.

She is a mother of five who practised drug-free home birth, delayed cord clamping, full term breast feeding, co-sleeping, home schooling and flexi schooling and is an advocate of raising children on organic food.

Reviewed September 29, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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