Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

What is it? 

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a mental health condition that affects a person’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviours, making it difficult for them to cope in all areas of life. People with BPD often have an abnormally distorted view of themselves and their environment, leading to intense, uncontrollable emotions, distress, and anger. BPD is a potentially life-long disorder that starts in the adolescent and emerging adulthood years.  


Symptoms of BPD can vary, but commonly include: 

  • Distorted self-image 
  • Feelings of isolation, boredom, and emptiness 
  • Severe and sudden mood swings 
  • Anxiety 
  • Loss of interest in routine activities 
  • Suicidal thoughts 
  • Delusions 


The exact causes of BPD are not fully understood, but it’s believed to be a combination of genetic, environmental, and brain-related factors. Adverse life experiences such as child abuse, neglect, or anything that causes long-term fear and distress seem to play a key role in causing BPD. In some people, a stressful event or relationship breakup may be associated with the development of BPD. Genetics also play a role, with BPD tending to run in families. Abnormalities in the brain, particularly in the front limbic network of neurons, have also been implicated. 


Interventions for BPD are mainly treated using psychotherapy, but medication may be added. Psychotherapy — also called talk therapy — is a fundamental treatment approach for BPD. Your therapist may adapt the type of therapy to best meet your needs. The goals of psychotherapy are to help you focus on your current ability to function, learn to manage emotions that feel uncomfortable, reduce your impulsiveness by helping you observe feelings rather than acting on them, and work on improving relationships by being aware of your feelings and those of others. Types of psychotherapy that have been found to be effective include Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), Schema-focused therapy, Mentalisation-based therapy (MBT), and Systems training for emotional predictability and problem-solving (STEPPS).