Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline personality disorder is a mental disorder that affects between 1 and 4% of the population some time during their lives. Symptoms typically appear in late adolescence or early adulthood, and the illness is more likely to be diagnosed in women than men. Women are about 3 times more likely to develop the disorder than men.

Borderline personality disorder is a disorder where the sufferer has difficulty processing emotions, managing emotions and impulses, and maintaining a stable self-image. Symptoms include low self-esteem, interpersonal sensitivity, self-consciousness or emotional detachment, anxiety about relationships and abandonment, impulsive behaviour, self-harm and suicidal threats, ideation and action, and moodiness or irritability.

About Borderline Personality Disorder

What it feels like

People with borderline personality disorder typically experience unbalanced emotions. This might involve severe mood swings, impulsivity, emotional instability and anger. Sufferers may experience severe changes in mood over the course of a relationship. Sufferers may also experience self-doubt and isolation.

What it looks like

It is difficult to find a clear summary of what borderline personality disorder looks like. To some degree, it blends in with depression, anxiety and mania. Typically people with borderline personality disorder will engage in unstable or even tumultuous relationships with people around them. They may project an unstable or changing sense of identity. In severe cases, they may experience or act on suicidal ideation.

Borderline Personality Disorder Recovery

Talk therapy with a psychologist or other clinician with training in evidence-based therapies is typically the first choice of treatment for borderline personality disorder. Generally, treatment involves one to two sessions a week. For therapy to be effective, people must feel comfortable with and trust their therapist.

Medication, via an experienced GP or psychiatrist, can also be useful to help manage significant depressive symptoms, agitation and other distressing manifestations of the disorder.

Some symptoms of borderline personality disorder are easier to treat than others. Fears that others might leave, intense, unstable relationships or feelings of emptiness are often hardest to change. Research shows that treatment is more effective in decreasing anger, suicide attempts and self-harm, as well as helping to improve overall functioning and social adjustment

I think my loved one has Borderline Personality Disorder

Generally the best first step if you think a loved one has borderline personality disorder is to find out more about the illness. There are a number of useful resources online, including the BPD Foundation, the National Education Alliance of Borderline Personality Disorder Australia, Project Air Strategy for Personality Disorders or Spectrum.Seeing a GP, psychologist, therapist or counsellor is also an important early step if you think your loved one has borderline personality disorder.


If you think your loved one is in danger of hurting themselves or someone else, please contact your local community mental health service, hospital and/or emergency services.