Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

  • Medical Author:
    Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD

    Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

What are borderline personality disorder symptoms and signs?

As per the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition) definition, in order to qualify for the diagnosis of BPD, an individual must have at least five of the following symptoms:

  • Distorted, unstable self-image, in that they may drastically and rapidly change in the way they understand their own likes, dislikes, strengths, challenges, goals, and even their basic value as a person, even to the point of having feelings of worthlessness
  • Repeatedly unstable relationships, in that individuals with this disorder repeatedly, rapidly, and drastically change from seeing another person as nearly perfect (idealizing) to seeing the same person as being bad or nearly worthless (devaluing)
  • Unstable emotions (affects), in that the sufferer experiences marked, rapid mood swings (for example, severe depression, guilt, anger, irritability, joy, euphoria, anxiety, including panic attacks and sadness) that are stress related, even if the stresses may be seen as minor or negligible to others
  • Desperate efforts to avoid loneliness or being abandoned, whether the abandonment is real or imagined
  • Significant impulsivity (the person tends to act before thinking), in at least two aspects that can be self-damaging (for example, sexual behaviors, eating or spending habits, driving behaviors, or in the use of substances)
  • Repeated self-mutilating behaviors, thoughts of suicide, suicidal behaviors, threats, or attempts
  • Chronic, persistent feelings of emptiness
  • Inappropriate, intense hostility or anger, a lack of restraint or other difficulty managing those emotions when they occur
  • Transient, stress-related paranoid thoughts or severe dissociation (lapses in memory)
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/7/2016

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