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Borderline Personality Disorder Symptoms & Diagnosis


The symptoms of BPD vary from person-to-person. People with BPD tend to be extremely sensitive to rejection, reacting with anger and upset at even mild separations from friends or family members. Symptoms often become more acute when people with BPD feel isolated and lonely, or during times of particular stress.

Traits that are common to people with BPD include:

  • Fears of abandonment, resulting in frantic behaviors aimed at avoiding abandonment
  • Extreme mood swings and difficulty managing emotions
  • Difficulty in relationships, characterized by dramatic swings between idealizing the relationship and devaluing the relationship (views people as all-good or all-bad)
  • Unstable self-image
  • Impulsive behavior
    • Excessive spending
    • Promiscuity, risky sexual behavior
    • Gambling
    • Drug and alcohol abuse
    • Self-injury, suicide threats
    • Binge eating
  • Repetitively injuring the self through cutting, scratching, or burning
  • Feeling misunderstood, bored, and empty
  • Having deep-seated feelings of being flawed or bad in some way
  • Using ‘defense’ mechanisms to avoid taking responsibility for behavior, or to blame others
  • Unpredictable mood and difficulty regulating mood
  • Problems with anger management, manifested as periods of intense, uncontrollable and often unreasonable anger
  • Episodes (usually precipitated by stress) of intense paranoia, dissociation, or thought patterns bordering on psychosis (hence the term “borderline”)


Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam to rule out other possible causes for mood and behavior problems. If BPD is suspected, you should get a thorough evaluation by a psychiatrist who specializes in personality disorders.

BPD can affect anyone, but is usually diagnosed in adolescents and young adults. BPD seems to occur much more frequently among women than men. A diagnosis of BPD may be made if a person has a history of having unstable interpersonal relationships, poor self-image, and marked impulsivity along with some of the specific symptoms of BPD listed above. In addition, BPD patients almost always have coexisting mental health problems, including:

  • Depression
  • Substance abuse
  • Eating disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Compulsive spending, gambling, or risky sexual behavior

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2023 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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