Borderline Personality Disorder 101  

What is Borderline Personality Disorder, and how can you get help if you think you have it?

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), otherwise known as Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD) is defined as ‘a disorder of mood and how a person interacts with others.’ It is a specific type of personality disorder, causing the person affected to think, perceive, relate and feel very differently to people who have been unaffected.



What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of BPD include:

  • High levels of sudden intense emotions such as rage, panic, emptiness, shame and distress that can last from a few hours to a few days
  • Severe mood swings
  • Disturbed perceptions, or patterns of thinking (‘cognitive distortions’ or ‘perceptual distortions’) such as:
    • Jumping to conclusionsconcluding or anticipating other people’s feelings
    • Overgeneralisation– coming to a conclusion based off of a single incident
    • Personalisation– seeing everything others do as a direct reaction to you
    • Polarised thinking– seeing things as either ‘black-or-white’. Anything short of perfection is deemed a failure
  • Finding it hard to build and maintain stable relationships, leading to intense and unstable relationships with others
  • A persistent fear of rejection or being abandoned by others, leading to extreme and emotional reactions to both perceived and real abandonment
  • Impulsive behaviour patterns, including:
    • Risky sexual behaviour
    • Driving recklessly
    • Binge-eating
    • Using drugs
    • Going on spending or gambling sprees
  • Impulses to self-harm and/or have suicidal feelings
  • Feelings of paranoia, stress or disassociation



Why Me?

It’s unclear what causes BPD. Researchers believe BPD to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Environmental factors can range from losing parent; sexual, physical or emotional abuse when growing up; and family difficulties such as living with a carer with an addiction problem.


Ultimately, it is impossible to predict who will develop BPD.



If you think that you may be affected by BPD, you should contact your GP who can arrange for you to see a psychiatrist if necessary. They may also refer you to your local community mental health team (CMHT) where you will receive a more in-depth assessment to work out what treatment will help you.

Be sure to ask if the department or service you are being referred to has experience in working with personality disorders.

Some symptoms are very similar to those of:

It is important that you discuss all possible options with a mental health professional so that you can receive the correct support and treatment.



If you are feeling suicidal there are many practical tips and coping methods that you can adopt in order to help yourself cope. However, if you feel like you are unable to grasp these and your safety may be at danger, please contact one of the following sources immediately.

  • 999 or NHS Direct on 111 (England) or 0845 4647 (Wales)
  • Samaritans on Freephone 116 123 (open 24 hours a day)
  • Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) 0800 58 58 58 – for men
  • Childline 0800 1111 (the number won’t show up on your bill) – for children and young people under 19
  • Go to your nearest Accident and Emergency (A&E) department

Generally, psychological treatments, such as talking to a therapist or attending special groups are the best way to treat BPD.

Here are some ideas on how you can help yourself:

  • Talk to someone- friend, family, specialist
  • Take part in physical activities and classes – looking after your physical health is always important
  • Art or creative therapies – try taking up art classes, or dance classes!
  • Keep a mood diary – recording how you feel can help you to identify your trigger points.

Learn what works to make you feel better, and over time you may also develop your own coping methods

For more information:



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