8 Major Signs of Borderline Personality Disorder

    • Irritability and disproportional anger: As stated above, irritability and affective instability are often at the core of BPD. It is important to understand that not everyone who appears moody or irritable should be diagnosed with BPD. Some people are suffering from other disorders that could better account for their symptoms. However, those who are meeting diagnostic criteria for BPD tend to struggle with controlling their emotions, primarily their anger. Someone suffering from BPD may display emotional responses that are disproportional to the trigger. They may find it completely difficult to control emotions in settings where emotional control is important. It may be difficult to “hold themselves together” until a later time. This impulsivity may have resulted in the loss of employment, relationships, or other important connections. I once had a client who struggled with controlling his emotions in public and would overreact in places such as grocery stores, car shops, malls, etc. On one occasion, my client was asked to leave a mall by police who were called after he threw a store’s clothing down on the ground when he was told he could not take his items in to a fitting room without receiving a ticket first.
    • Riskiness or self-harm: Riskiness may include sexual promiscuity, drug seeking behaviors that places the person in harms way, prostitution, overdosing on drugs or alcohol, driving recklessly, gambling, etc. Sadly, self-harm is also included in this category. Self-harm may include cutting, burning, etc. When I began practicing psychology 8 years ago, I had an adolescent client who would bang her head against the walls and ground until she had a headache. After being placed in a 24/7 supervised residential setting, reports showed that she had engaged in this act 4 out of 5 days of the week and would only engage in this behavior when she was triggered by people she thought were abandoning her, bullying her, or going against her in some fashion. No matter how kind I was to her as a therapist, she began to see me as the enemy when I highlighted the values in avoiding self-harm. One minute I was adored, the next minute I was hated. Self-harm can also be seen as self-destructive behavior which may include the individual rejecting the help of others and rejecting mental health or medical care.
    • Chronic suicidal thought patterns and/or attempts: Chronic suicidal thoughts may include thoughts of death, dying, and suicide almost everyday throughout the day. It may include what appears to others to be an obsession or psychological preoccupation with all topics related to death. I often encourage parents to watch their children or teens closely when they begin to embrace music, art, or other forms of artistic expression that idealizes, praises, or promotes death, dying, and suicide. Individuals who are considering suicide or who are feeling suicidal, will often gravitate toward those things that embrace it.

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