May is Borderline Personality Disorder Month, a time to recognize the symptoms of borderline personality disorder and the possibilities for treatment.
According to the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder, borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental illness that centers on the inability to manage emotions effectively. The disorder occurs in the context of relationships: sometimes all relationships are affected, sometimes only one or several.
The symptoms include: fear of abandonment, impulsivity, anger, bodily self-harm, suicide, feelings of emptiness and chaotic relationships. While some persons with BPD are high functioning in certain settings, their private lives may be in turmoil. Others are unable to work and require financial support.
Officially recognized in 1980 by the psychiatric community, BPD is more than two decades behind in research, treatment options and family psycho-education compared to other major psychiatric disorders. BPD has historically met with widespread misunderstanding and blatant stigma. However, evidenced-based treatments have emerged over the past two decades bringing hope to those diagnosed with the disorder and their loved ones.
Following are some of the facts:
— BPD afflicts up to 5.9 percent of adults (approximately 14 million Americans).
— BPD is more common than schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
— 20 percent of inpatients admitted to psychiatric hospitals and 10 percent of outpatients have BPD.
— 10 percent of adults with BPD commit suicide.
— 55-85 percent of adults with BPD self-injure their bodies.
— 33 percent of youth who commit suicide have features of BPD.
— Heritability of this illness is estimated to be up to 68 percent.
Following are some of the aspects of treatment:
— Evidence-based therapies for BPD exist but need wider dissemination.
— About 85 percent of people with BPD also meet the diagnostic criteria of another mental disorder.
— A 30-year-old woman with BPD typically has the medical profile of a woman in her 60s.
— 38 percent of adults with BPD are prescribed three or more medications.
— Up to 40 percent of high users of mental health services have BPD.
— Over 50 percent of people with BPD are severely impaired in employability.
— BPD is implicated in 17 percent of the prison population.
— 38 percent of those with BPD have substance abuse/dependence disorders.
If you know a loved one who appears to exhibit any of these symptoms, talk with the person about meeting with a mental health professional. Left untreated, BPD can be tragic. Treated, a person may lead a more healthy, normal life.