Borderline Personality Disorder

Information on Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Borderline Personality Disorder Symptoms


BPD Symptoms


The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - Fourth edition (DSM IV) describes Borderline Personality Disorder as "A pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and marked impulsivity beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts" and goes on to list nine symptom areas where these patterns are evident. To meet the criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder a person must exhibit significant symptoms in at least five of these nine areas.

The nine symptom areas described by DSM IV-TR can be summarized as:


* frantic efforts to avoid feared abandonment

* intensity and instability in relationships

* suicidal behaviour, or acts of self-harm

* an unstable self-image or sense of self

* impulsive behaviour (eg. spending, substance use, reckless driving, sex, binge eating)

* emotional instability due to reactivity of mood

* chronic feelings of emptiness

* intense, inappropriate or uncontrollable anger

* paranoid thinking under stress or 'dissociative' symptoms

Borderline Personality Disorder is usually first evident during adolescence or early adulthood.


Some researchers working with people with Borderline Personality Disorder have suggested a better label for this condition may be "Emotional Intensity Disorder" or "Emotion Dysregulation Disorder" because one of the prominent symptom features of BPD is intense emotional responses to what often seem to be quite minor events. On the other hand the label "personality disorder" captures the enduring pattern of thoughts, beliefs and behaviour as well as emotional responses.

Unfortunately the label "Borderline Personality Disorder" has developed some unhelpful negative connotations amongst some people. These negative connotations have largely developed out of outdated understanding of the nature of the condition.


The International Classification of Diseases - 10th Edition (ICD-10) categorises borderline personality disorder under the label "Unstable Personality Disorder" which it divides into two subtypes: (i) Impulsive type and (ii) Borderline type.


It is common for people with BPD suffer from other psychological disorders at various stages. Common additional disorders include: depression, anxiety disorders, drug and alcohol abuse disorders, and eating disorders.

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Important: The above list of BPD symptoms should not be used for diagnosis. If you think you may be suffering from BPD it is recommended you consult a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist for assessment.