Borderline Personality Disorder - Symptoms

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What are borderline personality disorder symptoms and signs?

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

  • Unstable self-image, in that they may drastically and rapidly change in the way they perceive their own likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, goals, and intrinsic value as a person
  • Unstable relationships, in that individuals with this disorder rapidly, drastically, and often frequently change from seeing another person as nearly perfect (idealizing) to seeing the other person as being virtually worthless (devaluing)
  • Unstable emotions (affects), in that the sufferer experiences marked, rapid changes in feelings (for example, severe anger, joy, euphoria, anxiety, including panic attacks and depression) that are stress related, even if the stresses may be seen as minor or negligible to others
  • Desperate efforts to avoid being abandoned, whether the abandonment is real or imagined
  • Significant impulsivity, in that the person with BPD tends to act before thinking to the point that it is self-damaging (for example, sexual behaviors, spending habits, eating habits, driving behaviors, or in the use of substances)
  • Recurring suicidal behaviors, threats, or attempts
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty managing their anger when it occurs
  • Transient, stress-related paranoia or severe dissociation (lapses in memory)
Return to Borderline Personality Disorder

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Comment from: lost to bpd, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: January 23

I learned a year ago I have BPD (borderline personality disorder). It's hard to live with. I have been working with a doctor and counselor since then but it's hard to maintain a relationship with them. I drink and know I shouldn't. I feel alone at times and as though my husband doesn't understand me. My life is an emotional roller coaster I feel as though I have no control. I lose my temper often. I feel like there is no hope for me, my mental illness is taking control of me. I ask myself each day what it may bring. I have thoughts of suicide often that my family would be better off without me. One thing stops me, my son who is 17.

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Comment from: Confused, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: September 15

I experience mood swings throughout the day, I can be very sensitive or very angry at times. I get panic attacks all the time. My job requires public speaking and I freak out in my mind and try to be cool about it but I start to get blurred vision, I feel like I'm never doing a good job. I look in the mirror and I don't like what I see while others see a beautiful woman. I always have to pretend that I'm confident because I don't want to show a sign of weakness. I just hate being me I wish I was normal like other people. I take medication for my borderline personality disorder and it takes some of the edge off but I'm still not normal. I'm embarrassed to say that I have a mental illness. People will just think I'm crazy, I've had childhood trauma and I'm finally feeling like I can be an advocate and talk about my issues I have too many feelings and mood swings and am afraid of relationships, etc.

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