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.

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How do health-care professionals diagnose borderline personality disorder?

There is no specific definitive test, like a blood test, that can accurately assess that a person has BPD. People who are concerned that they may suffer from BPD might further consider that possibility by taking a self-test, either an online or printable test. To determine the presence of this disorder, practitioners conduct a mental-health interview that looks for the presence of the symptoms, also called diagnostic criteria, described previously. As with any mental-health assessment, the health-care practitioner will usually work toward ruling out other mental disorders, including mood problems like depression, anxiety disorders including anxiety attacks or generalized anxiety, types of other personality disorders like narcissistic personality disorder, dependent personality disorder or histrionic personality disorder, drug-abuse problems as well as problems being in touch with reality, like schizophrenia or delusional disorder. Besides determining if the person suffers from BPD, the mental-health professional may assess that while some symptoms (traits) of the disorder are present, the person does not fully qualify for the condition.

The professional will also likely try to ensure that the person is not suffering from a medical problem that may cause emotional symptoms. The mental-health practitioner will therefore often inquire about when the person has most recently had a physical examination, comprehensive blood testing, and any other tests that a medical professional deems necessary to ensure that the individual is not suffering from a medical condition instead of or in addition to emotional symptoms. Due to the use of a mental-health interview in establishing the diagnosis and the fact that this illness can be quite resistant to treatment, it is of great importance that the practitioner know to conduct a thorough evaluation. This is to assure that the person is not incorrectly assessed as having BPD when he or she does not.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/7/2016
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