Borderline personality disorder is a serious mental health disorder that most commonly affects young women. The condition is not as well publicised as other mental health illnesses such as bipolar and depression, but borderline disorder is actually more likely to be diagnosed and the condition accounts for around one fifth of all psychiatric hospital admissions due to the severity of the symptoms of borderline personality disorder in women affected.
What causes borderline personality disorder in women?
Many patients have a history of sexual or physical abuse and/or childhood neglect, but there is also believed to be a genetic predisposition to the disorder.
What are the symptoms of borderline personality disorder in women?
One of the reasons the illness is called ‘borderline’ personality disorder is that sufferers are considered to be on the borderline of psychosis due to the highly volatile and unstable nature of the patient’s mood swings, interpersonal relationships, and poor sense of self worth. In extreme cases of the disorder, women can actually exhibit the symptoms of psychosis, including paranoia and hallucinations.
Women diagnosed with borderline personality disorder are prone to very intense feelings of depression, anger and anxiety in the same way that a sufferer of bipolar disorder is, but unlike bipolar, the moods of BPD only last for a few hours. However, these highly unstable mood swings can cause tremendous problems with interpersonal relationships and women with borderline personality disorder often have stormy and volatile relationships with loved ones, family, and friends.
One of the features of borderline personality disorder is a tendency for sufferers to fall into the pattern of forming very intense relationships characterized by an unrealistic idealization of their partner. Patients often have severe abandonment issues and if there is conflict in the relationship, or it subsequently breaks down, this can lead to an emotional breakdown with suicidal tendencies. Women suffering from borderline personality disorder are also much more likely to stay in a dysfunctional relationship because of their fear of being alone. Such self destructive behavioral patters are not only restricted to romantic attachments—they can also occur within familial relationships, which can make the person exceptionally difficult to live with.
Borderline personality disorder patients tend to suffer from low self esteem and a distorted sense of self. As a result, many patients self harm or end up addicted to drugs and/or alcohol. It is also common for women with borderline personality disorder to show signs of related problems including binge eating, impulsive behavior such as shoplifting, high risk sexual practices, and gambling.
What is the treatment for symptoms of borderline personality disorder in women?
Psychotherapy is one of the main avenues of treatment for women diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Patients will be encouraged to undergo group and individual cognitive psychotherapy sessions. In recent years, a psychosocial dialectical behavior therapy has been developed specifically to treat women diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.
Drug treatments are also used in conjunction with psychotherapy and can be very helpful in controlling the symptoms of the disorder. These might include antipsychotic drugs, antidepressants and mood stabilizers, and anticonvulsants.