What are the symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder? There is no easy answer to this question. There are many behaviors and traits that can be attributed to BPD, but without a professional diagnosis, you will be hard-pressed to define the problem as BPD. What are some of the common Borderline Personality Disorder symptoms a person displays?
Common Borderline Personality Disorder Symptoms
The following is a fairly standard description of the primary BPD symptoms based on the DSM-IV diagnosis criteria:
- Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
- A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation
- Identity disturbance, such as a significant and persistent unstable self-image or sense of self
- Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (spending, s*x, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating)
- Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior(cutting, suicidal threats, etc.)
- Emotional instability due to significant reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days)
- Chronic feelings of emptiness
- Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights)
- Transient, stress-related paranoid thoughts or severe dissociative symptoms
It is important to understand that the severity and duration that these Borderline Personality Disorder symptoms are displayed plays a big part in whether or not a person will be diagnosed with BPD. Many of these symptoms can be displayed in perfectly normal individuals during significantly stressful life events. Therefore, it is unreasonable to mistake adverse stress responses as Borderline Personality Disorder symptoms.
Many normal people going through a divorce will commonly display symptoms such as an adverse fear of abandonment, depression, and emotional inconsistency. This is a very natural response to what is probably one of the most stressful and disheartening events a person will undergo in their life. It is for this very reason that it is duly important that the entire life situation be evaluated when there is a concern that a person has Borderline Personality Disorder.
Here is where Borderline Personality Disorder symptoms get very gray or unclear. We cannot simply read a list of symptoms, checking them off as we go, and come to the conclusion that the individual in question is in fact a Borderline. This is not a disorder with clear behavioral boundaries. We can ascertain that when a person is sneezing, coughing, and complaining of a scratchy throat, that they probably have a cold. With Borderline Personality Disorder, the same method of deduction is faulty at best.
Many Borderline Personality Disorder symptoms are co-morbid with other personality or behavioral problems such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Bipolar Disorder. Many people suffering with BPD are also coping with addictions or alcoholism. It is hard to gauge (event for a seasoned therapist) which symptoms are a product of BPD and which come from an addiction to drugs or alcohol.
In summary, if you suspect that a person is displaying clear Borderline Personality Disorder symptoms, dig deeper. Find out what has recently gone on in that individual’s life, or what is currently going on. Are they under a tremendous amount of stress at work? Are they afraid they will soon lose their job? Do they suspect that their spouse is having an affair? Have they gone through apparent cycles of this type of erratic, inconsistent behavior in the past? You must dig deeper before coming to the conclusion that the problem is BPD. You must seek out the guidance of a professional therapist.