This brief guide will cover the BPD symptoms in detail, along with other personality disorder types, causes, treatments and assessment tools available for BPD symptoms.
A person with a personality disorder thinks, feels, and behaves differently. There are several different types of personality disorders clustered into different categories on the basis of their characteristics.
Personality disorder is a persistent pattern of behaving and feeling, which is altered. Initially in DSM IV, personality disorder used to be diagnosed on Axis-II, but in DSM 5 (2013), the axial system has been changed and now a single diagnosis with co-occurring symptoms use to be given.
What is BPD?
BPD symptoms is based on the criteria given in DSM 5 (2013). This is considered a personality disorder and covers the main characteristic features of personality disorders. BPD symptoms fall in cluster B (dramatic) and having a persistent pattern of behaviour and thoughts.
Person experiencing borderline symptoms having polarized thinking, impulsive, risky behaviour, spontaneous and impulsive. They also experience excessive shift of emotions, and unable to control anger outbursts.
Symptoms of Personality Disorder
There are a number of different personality disorders, such as the cluster A is categorized as suspicious, delusional, not interested in social interactions or not having social skills to maintain social relationships, as well as inability to consider the consequences of their actions and lead towards illegal, and risky behaviour.
Similarly, Cluster B is categorized on the basis of dramatic symptoms. The person experiencing cluster B personality condition will report feelings of emptiness, self-harm incidents or multiple failed suicide attempts, overly impressionistic, having fragile self-esteem, and excessively praising oneself in situations.
Whereas, Cluster C, is categorized on the basis of anxious symptoms. They are sometimes overly clingy to another person, are overly concerned with order, or tries to avoid social situations because of fear of criticism.
Types of Personality Disorder
The personality disorders are clustered into three:
Cluster A: Odd, Eccentric
In this cluster there are three disorders named:
1. Paranoid Personality Disorder
2. Schizoid Personality Disorder
3. Schizotypal Personality Disorder
Cluster B: Dramatic, or Unpredictable
1. Antisocial Personality Disorder
2. Borderline Personality Disorder
3. Histrionic Personality Disorder
4. Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Person with antisocial personality
disorder use to be reckless, dangerous and unable to think about the
consequences of their actions. They are dangerous, aggressive and gets easily
bored. They have no feeling of guilt or remorse. They consider whatever they
value is an opportunity and they have to avail it, no matter if they are
hurting the feelings of others. For the diagnosis of antisocial disorder, the
age must be 18 years or older, as before the age of 18 years these symptoms are
diagnosed as conduct disorder if happening before 15 years of age.
2. Borderline Personality Disorder
They are dramatic and think as
other people are leaving them, they have an extreme feeling of emptiness,
having intense emotions that last for a few days and then vanish. They have
weak self-esteem, as well as it is difficult for them to maintain stable
relationships, they are driven by impulses and exercise self-harm or attempt
suicide mostly for the purpose to seek attention. They feel lonely at times and
experience extreme anger. Sometimes they also report experiencing the psychotic
3. Histrionic Personality Disorder
People with histrionic personality
disorder are overly impressionistic, attention-seeking by their exaggerated
dramatized body language, accent, or appearance. They are selfish and consider
themselves before anyone else. They require a lot of admiration and approval
from others. They try to keep everyone entertained and try to remain in the
4. Narcissistic Personality Disorder
They consider themselves to be
superior than others. They consider as they are special and more deserving than
the others. They have fragile self-esteem, as well as depend on others to
acknowledge their importance and value. They are selfish and think about
themselves, tries to take benefit from others, and feels sad about the
achievements of others.
Cluster C: Anxious, or Fearful
1. Avoidant Personality Disorder
2. Dependent Personality Disorder
3. Obsessive Personality Disorder
People experiencing BPD symptoms are dramatic and think as other people are leaving them, they have an extreme feeling of emptiness, having intense emotions that last for a few days and then vanish. They have weak self-esteem, as well as it is difficult for them to maintain stable relationships, they are driven by impulses and exercise self-harm or attempt suicide mostly for the purpose to seek attention. They feel lonely at times and experience extreme anger. Sometimes they also report experiencing psychotic features.
Diagnostic Criteria of Personality Disorder
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder 5 (2013), has given the criteria for the personality disorder diagnosis, the overview of that criteria are given below:
A. It is the enduring pattern and persistent pattern of behaviour which is not according to the particular culture the person is living. This disturbing pattern is manifested in either, cognition, affectivity, interpersonal relationships or spontaneity.
B. This pattern of behaviour is constant over time and prevail in a number of personal or social situations.
C. The condition is affecting other areas of a person’s functioning such as work, academics, personal life etc.
D. The pattern of behaviour became more consistent and spans over the course of years, as well as it appeared in teenage or young adulthood.
E. The condition is not the symptom of any other mental disorder
F. The condition and symptoms are not because of the impact of drug or substance and medical condition.
Diagnostic Criteria of Borderline Personality Disorder
The following criteria are extracted from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (2013).
A. It is a persistent pattern of unstable relationships, self-esteem, emotions, and impulsivity. The symptoms of borderline needs to be any five of the following:
1. Person tries to avoid being deserted and abandoned, and they go to any extreme to save themselves
2. Unstable relationships, inability to maintain a balance and is characterized by the extreme devaluation and idealization
3. Inability to maintain the stable self-image, their self-image keeps on altering on the basis of others’ opinions and ideas
4. Impulsive and spontaneous, and this behaviour causes disturbance as well as prove dangerous for them at least in two areas
5. Suicidal behaviour manifested by their threats, gestures or self-harm incidents
6. Extreme shifts in emotions, going from extreme happiness to sadness or irritability.
7. Extreme feelings of emptiness
8. Uncontrollable anger, and inappropriate intense anger
Causes of Personality Disorder
There are a number of causes of personality disorder, but there is no one clear cause of personality disorder. The factors contribute to personality disorders are biological, psychological, physical and socio-cultural.
The biological causes include the genes, heredity, family history, functioning of neurotransmitters and chemical substances.
The psychological causes of personality disorders are childhood trauma, stress, adverse family environment, low self-esteem, child neglect, and parental rejection.
Physical causes include brain dysfunction and psychiatric pathology.
The sociocultural causes include divorce, being deserted, deprivation of relationships, assault, abuse of death, and separation.
Assessment Tools for BPD symptoms
There are a number of tools for the assessment of borderline symptoms. The type of scales is different:
The tools used in professional settings are standardized and mostly require a certain level of skills on part of the examiner. Few of them are mentioned here:
1. Diagnostic Interview for DSM–IV Personality Disorders (DIPD–IV)
2. Structured Clinical Interview for DSM–IV Personality Disorders (SCID–II)
3. Structured Clinical Interview for DSM–V Personality Disorders (SCID–III)
4. Structured Interview for DSM–IV Personality (SIDP–IV)
5. International Personality Disorder Examination (IPDE)
6. Personality Assessment Schedule (PAS)
There is a number of self-report measures as well which can be used by the person to get an idea regarding the presence and severity of the condition. Few of them are mentioned here:
1. MSI-BPD McLean Borderline Personality Disorder
2. Personality Diagnostic Questionnaire, 4th Edition (PDQ-4)
3. Zanarini Rating Scale for Borderline Personality Disorder (ZAN-BPD)
Treatment of BPD symptoms
There are different forms of treatment for personality disorders.
It is one form of treatment, in this a mental health professional especially a psychologist deals with the client experiencing the personality disorder symptoms. This is also called ‘talk-therapy’, this usually takes up to three months and sometimes more. There are different therapies that can be used for personality disorder.
Dialectic Behaviour Therapy
This is the evidence-based therapy for personality disorders, especially for the treatment of borderline disorder. In this treatment approach, the skills to manage one’s emotions, as well as mindfulness is discussed in detail.
This type of therapy is useful to uncover the unconscious pattern and understand the person’s emotions, and feelings in a non-threatening environment. It includes the use of dance, art, drama, and music.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
In CBT, the clinician looks for the discrepancy in the thoughts, emotions, and behaviour of the person along with the automatic thought patterns.
It is a long term talking therapy, which is based on the model of CBT and goes further deep into the core beliefs and schemas of the person, which influence their thoughts, behaviours, and actions.
There are no specific drugs made for personality disorders, but the combination of drugs for the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and psychosis are used for particular symptoms.
Frequently Asked Questions for BPD Symptoms
What BPD feels like?
BPD feels like fluctuating moods, unstable sense of self, impulsiveness, and erratic behaviour.
Are people with BPD dangerous?
BPD people can be dangerous in very rare cases.
Is BPD a serious mental illness?
BPD is a damaging mental illness, 10% of clients need psychiatric care and 20% needs hospitalization.
What causes a personality disorder?
There are a number of causes of personality disorder, they can be biological, physical,
psychological and sociocultural.