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Borderline personality disorder is a personality disorder most common in the population over the age of eighteen years, although it is also found in adolescents. The disorder is characterized by long-term patterns of behavior that negatively affect relationships and work and variability of moods. People with borderline personality disorder are often prone to drug abuse, drinking, and other risk-taking behaviors. It is estimated that borderline personality disorder occurs in 1 to 2 percent of population.

The disorder is more common in young women than in men. In the United States, borderline personality disorder affects somewhere among 1 and 3 percent of the adult population. Approximately 75 percent of all U.S. patients are women. This personality disorder tends to occur more often among hospitalized psychiatric patients.

Signs and symptoms of borderline personality disorder

Patients with borderline personality disorder usually swing between opposite emotions, while being highly uncertain about their own self-image. They tend to see things in extremes, as all good or all bad. Typically, they see themselves as victims of situation, taking a little or no responsibility for themselves and their actions. In order to qualify for the diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, an individual must have at least five of the following symptoms:

  • emotions that frequently go up and down;
  • difficulty in making and maintaining relationships;
  • unstable sense of identity that drastically and rapidly changes in different social situations;
  • taking risks without thinking about the consequences;
  • harming oneself or thinking about harming oneself: suicidal behaviors, threats, or attempts;
  • excessive fear of being rejected and left alone;
  • constant feeling of emptiness;
  • transient, stress-related paranoia or severe dissociation.

Causes of borderline personality disorder

Causes of borderline personality disorder are complex and usually hard to determine. There is strong evidence that suggests that borderline personality disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder are closely related.

If this is true, borderline personality disorder most probably results from a childhood trauma, a vulnerable personality and stressful maturational events during adolescence or adulthood. Recognized risk factors for borderline personality disorder include: abandonment in childhood or adolescence, sex abuse, disrupted family life, poor communication in the family, a genetic predisposition, neurobiological factors, environmental factors, or brain abnormalities.

Treatment of borderline personality disorder

Treatment of borderline personality disorder usually includes dialectical behavioral therapy, a form of cognitive behavioral therapy, which can help change self-destructive behaviors. Group therapy may be more efficient than the one-on-one counseling, because people with this condition often have difficulty with authority figures. Certain medications are also used to treat symptoms such as mood swings and depression.

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