How do I know if I have borderline personality disorder?

Borderline personality disorder is a common illness. It is a mental health disorder that affects the way we think and feel about ourselves and others, causing problems for us to fit normally into everyday life.

2% of the Spanish population suffers from this type of disorder. Almost 75% of people diagnosed with this disorder are women, but recent research suggests that the percentage of men affected may be equal to that of women.
These people show many difficulties in regulating emotions and impulses.. These difficulties in regulating emotions cause changes in mood, self-image, a lot of instability and problems in interpersonal relationships.

With borderline personality disorder, you have a deep fear of abandonment or instability, and you can have conflict by tolerating being alone.

the causes

Borderline personality disorder usually starts in the teenage years. The disorder appears to worsen in early adulthood and may improve with age.

The causes are not yet fully understood, but most likely it is a mix of genetic, family, social and life stressors.

1. Genetics

No specific gene has been shown to cause the disorder. But it has been shown that this type of disorder it is about five times more common in people with a first-degree relative with BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder).

2. Environmental factors

People who experience traumatic events in their lives, such as physical or sexual abuse or abuse in childhood or neglect, are more likely to develop the disorder.

3. Brain function

The functional shape of the brain is different in people with borderline personality disorderThis means that there is a different neurological basis for certain symptoms. Specifically, the parts of the brain that control emotions and decision making.


Symptoms of borderline personality disorder can include:

  • Distorted and unstable self-image
  • Efforts to avoid being abandoned by friends, partner and family
  • Unstable interpersonal relationships
  • Impulsive behaviors which can sometimes have dangerous consequences, such as overspending, unprotected sex, drug addiction, etc.
  • Suicidal behavior or self-harm
  • Great mood swings that can last from a few hours to a few days, which can include intense happiness, irritability, shame, or anxiety.
  • Irritability or anxiety
  • Periods of low or depressed mood
  • Inappropriate, intense or uncontrollable anger
  • Shame and guilt
  • Continuous feelings of emptiness
  • Intense and inappropriate anger, such as often losing one’s temper, being sarcastic or bitter, or having physical fights
  • Rapid changes in identity and self-image that include changes in goals and values, and seeing yourself as bad and as if you don’t exist
  • Intense and inappropriate anger, such as often losing one’s temper, being sarcastic or bitter, or having physical fights

Risk factors

  • Abandonment or fear of abandonment in childhood or adolescence
  • Dissociated family life
  • Poor communication in the family
  • Sexual, physical or emotional violence

How do I know if I have borderline personality disorder?

There is no medical test to diagnose BPD, it is not based on a single symptom. It is important that it is diagnosed by an experienced mental health professional. After the professional has conducted a thorough interview and a presentation of the symptoms, he or she must determine whether it corresponds to this diagnosis or another.

The psychologist may also ask you questions about the patient’s and family’s symptoms and clinical history, including a history of mental illness. This information can help the mental health professional decide on the best treatment.

In addition, a careful and thorough medical examination can also help rule out other possible causes of the symptoms.


A typical and comprehensive treatment plan would include: psychotherapeutic drugs and family support.

1. Psychotherapy

It is the fundamental pillar of treatment. In addition to Dialectical Behavior Therapy, which was created specifically for the treatment of borderline personality disorder, there are other effective types of psychotherapy (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Mentalization Based Therapy).

2. Medicines

There are no specific drugs for borderline personality disorder. But if they treat the symptoms of anger, depression, and anxiety with another type of medicine. This medication may include mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, antidepressants, and anxiolytics..

3. Hospitalization

As a last resort, if psychotherapy and medication are not enough, it would be important and advisable to hospitalize the person. A hospital can provide a safe environment for a person with BPD who is self-harming or is having thoughts of suicide.

If you have borderline personality disorder, don’t give up. Many people with this disorder get better over time with treatment and learn to regulate their emotions and lead more fulfilling lives.

Bibliographical references:

  • Gregory, R. (2006). “Clinical challenges in borderline personality disorders and borderline substance use”. Psychiatric Times XXIII (13).

  • McGlashan, TH (1983). “Borderline syndrome: is it a variant of schizophrenia or affective disorder?” Psychiatry Arch Gen.

  • Nordahl, HM, TE Nysaeter (September 2005). “Treatment regimen for patients with borderline personality disorder: a single case series.” J Behav Ther Exp Psychiatry 36 (3).

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