What is BPD?

Borderline Personality
Disorder (BPD)

BPD is a serious mental illness that centres on the inability to manage emotions effectively.

The disorder occurs in the context of relationships: sometimes all relationships are affected, sometimes only one. It usually begins during adolescence or early adulthood.

While some persons with BPD are high functioning in certain settings, their private lives may be in turmoil. Most people who have BPD suffer from problems regulating their emotions and thoughts, impulsive and sometimes reckless behaviour, and unstable relationships

Other disorders, such as depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, substance abuse and other personality disorders can often exist along with BPD

The diagnosis of BPD is frequently missed, and a misdiagnosis of BPD has been shown to delay and/or prevent recovery.

Borderline Personality Disorder - Sanctuary support group
BPD Symptoms

Symptoms of the disorder

A mental health professional experienced in diagnosing and treating mental disorders—such as a psychiatrist, general practitioner or psychologist can diagnose BPD based on an in-person consultation and input from family or close friend. Additionally, a careful and thorough medical examination can help rule out other possible causes of symptoms

A pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self image and affects (mood), and marked impulsivity beginning in adolescence or early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

  1. Fear of abandonment
  2. Unstable or changing relationships
  3. Unstable self-image; struggles with identity or sense of self
  4. Impulsive or self-damaging behaviours (e.g., excessive spending, unsafe sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating)
  5. Suicidal behaviour or self-injury
  6. Varied or random mood swings
  7. Constant feelings of worthlessness or sadness
  8. Problems with anger, including frequent loss of temper or physical fights
  9. Stress-related paranoia or loss of contact with reality

*Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association:

Listen objectively to what the person we care for is trying to tell us 

Learn about the illness, and learn about how it is affecting them right now 

“High family member involvement predicts better outcomes amongst people with BPD.

Hooley & Hoffman, 1999