Women are diagnosed more often for many mental disorders, and borderline personality disorder is no exception.
Statistics vary, but James Hall, the executive vice president of the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder, said in an e-mail that in the past, it was thought that “75 percent of all patients were female.”
However, he said this statistic is not completely accurate, since more women tend to get help, so more are diagnosed.
In 2008, Hall said the National Institutes of Health released a study on borderline personality disorder that found that 5.9 percent of the population has it, and the rates in males and females were the same.
Although men and women appear to have the same prevalence rate, the way the disorder presents in each gender might be different.
“As a generalization, women appear more prone to act inwardly with self-injury,” Hall said. “Males are more likely to receive the label of anti-social personality if they should present for therapy.”
Some symptoms include “difficulty managing emotions,” impulsivity, suicidality, self-harm, extreme negative emotions, “chaotic relationships and a very negative sense of self,” he said.
Women who have borderline personality disorder are not necessarily considered more acceptable than men who have the disorder, even though women present more.
“The stigma of this brain disorder can be overwhelming for the sufferer,” Hall said. “Stigma exists with many in the mental health profession, families and the general public, although advocacy efforts are beginning to have positive effects.”
Deborah Partington, a psychologist in Arizona, said that women with borderline personality disorder may show more relationship issues than men.
“Women tend to have frequent relationships, intense relationships that don’t last because peoples’ needs aren’t basically being met,” she said. “It’s difficult to hold down a relationship, mostly because one’s sense of self isn’t strong enough for a relationship.”
There is also the fear of abandonment.
“Either you love me or you hate me; there’s not a whole lot of middle ground there,” Partington said.