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Understanding emotions and feelings can be difficult for anybody. However, this struggle is greatly intensified in those with mood or personality disorders. While mood disorders focus on patterns in people’s emotions, personality disorders center around the way in which people interact with others. 

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a persistent personality disorder that affects nearly every aspect of an individual’s life. BPD often prevents people from establishing or maintaining healthy, stable relationships and affects how they view and process their emotions. 

What Is Borderline Personality Disorder?

BPD is characterized by long-term patterns of emotional instability and manic emotions. BPD is often described as a rollercoaster because those who struggle with the disorder may experience extreme highs followed by extreme lows. 

Because BPD affects how you interact with your own emotions, BPD is also often characterized by continual identity crises. The feelings of people with BPD can be unpredictable and confusing, meaning their perception of self is frequently altered. This can lead to volatile and unstable relationships. 

Common signs and symptoms of BPD may include:

  • Intense mood swings
  • Distorted self-image
  • Unstable relationships
  • Intense fear of abandonment
  • Impulsive or unpredictable behavior
  • Self-harming
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
  • Feelings of emptiness or loneliness
  • Problems managing anger
  • Feelings of dissociation
  • Lack of self-worth

What Causes Borderline Personality Disorder?

Researchers believe that BPD, like most other psychological conditions, may stem from various factors. However, studies show that genetic, environmental, and social factors may increase someone’s susceptibility to being affected by BPD. 

While these factors may be consistently found in those with BPD, they do not mean that you have or will develop BPD. Talking to a licensed mental health professional is always recommended before making any assumptions about the possibility of a disorder or beginning treatment for one. 

Important factors to consider in the cause of BPD include:

Genetic History

Studies indicate that genetic and family history may play a prominent role in the development of BPD. If a close family member has a history of BPD, the likelihood of someone developing BPD is dramatically increased. 

Brain Structure

Research has shown that the areas of the brain that regulate and interpret emotion are structurally different in those diagnosed with BPD and those who aren’t. However, researchers are unclear as to whether this structural difference is caused by the disorder or vice versa. 

Environmental Factors

Traumatic events are also believed to play a role in the development of BPD. Events of sexual assault, emotional or physical abuse, or abandonment are often found in the childhoods of people with BPD.

Can Borderline Personality Disorder Be Treated?

Historically speaking, personality disorders, including BPD, are challenging to treat. However, as methods are being researched and refined, more and more people with BPD are seeing progress in lessening symptoms and improving their quality of life. 

There’s not one specific treatment that’s proven to be effective with BPD. Typically, a holistic method of treatment consisting of several therapeutic modalities is most effective in treating the disorder. 

The most common methods for treating BPD include:

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is the most common form of “talk therapy,” in which clients and licensed professionals work together to get to the root of the client’s issues. Once these issues have been identified, they work together to replace negative thinking patterns with healthy skills that will allow them to live a more balanced life. CBT has proven effective in treating a variety of disorders for decades.

Dialectal Behavior Therapy (DBT)

DBT is the current leading treatment for BPD and was initially developed specifically for the disorder. Functionally, DBT is very similar to CBT, with a greater focus on mindfulness techniques. This form of therapy is intended to directly target behavioral regulation issues by teaching behavioral coping mechanisms. 

The skills learned in DBT are intended to help clients build personal skills and learn to manage emotions through mindfulness. Specific goals are set by the client and the therapist so that therapy is intentional and progress can be tracked.


Certain mood stabilizers and anti-depressants have been found to help people with BPD manage specific symptoms. Medications should never be started without the recommendation and supervision of a licensed professional. 

Co-Occurring Disorders

Often, BPD co-occurs with other mental health issues, such as substance use disorders (SUDs). If this is the case, it’s recommended that the client is treated for both simultaneously. CBT and DBT have both been proven to be effective for specific individuals to treat other mental health disorders, including substance abuse. This means that clients engaging in these therapies can often find relief in multiple facets of their life. 

Recovering From Borderline Personality Disorder

Recovery may present challenging situations with potential triggers. The goal of DBT is to prepare you for this. Coping mechanisms learned in therapy are intended to be exercised in the real world to help you manage symptoms and prevent relapse. 

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) can make your life feel unstable and often hopeless. While BPD can be a complicated disorder to live with, there is a path toward managing your symptoms and improving your quality of life. Whether through psychotherapy such as DBT, medications, or a combination of different methods, BPD can be treated. At West Coast Recovery Centers, our team is prepared to help you with your journey every step of the way. Our professionals will work with you to create an individualized treatment plan that works specifically for you. DBT is one of many methods utilized at our facility, and a professional can help you determine if this treatment plan is a good fit for you. If you or someone you love is struggling with BPD, our team is ready to work with you to begin your recovery journey. Call us today at (760) 492-6509

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