Diseases & Conditions


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Borderline personality disorder


A pervasive pattern of instability in interpersonal relationships and self-image, with marked impulsivity, beginning by early adulthood. Because the impulsivity and inappropriate behavior of this condition may mimic symptoms of ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER, a diagnosis by an experienced clinician is important. Borderline personality disorder (BPD) affects one in 50 children in the United States. The name “borderline personality disorder” was given because experts once thought the condition fell somewhere between neurosis and psychosis on the mental illness continuum. Professionals who are educated about the BPD all agree that the name should be changed as it does in no way describe the disorder. Symptoms This type of personality disorder leads to intense feelings of abandonment, poor self-image, and unrealistic expectations of others. Moodiness and angry outbursts may be common, and the individual may seem depressed or suicidal. The hallmark of the disorder is chronic instability, affecting relationships with family members or colleagues, and a lack of close, long-term interpersonal relationships that can add to the sense of isolation and abandonment. Cause Although some experts believe the condition is a true personality disorder acquired from childhood trauma, research does not support this theory. While the exact cause is still unknown, more and more research has discovered that the BPD is genetic. Mothers who have the condition are five times more likely to give birth to an affected child than a mother without the BPD. Treatment Recent research has shown that medications can significantly relieve the suffering of borderline patients when used in combination with psychotherapy. Treatment may be some combination of antipsychotic or antianxiety drugs, antidepressants, and psychotherapy. Due to their suicide attempts or brief psychotic episodes, borderline patients frequently are hospitalized.