Nine Symptoms of BPD

January 23, 2023

Learning to recognize nine symptoms of BPD.

What is BPD?

Borderline Personality Disorder is a mental health disorder that disturbs the way individuals think and feel, both about themselves and others. It is classified as a disorder as it causes issues functioning in everyday life. These issues typically relate to self-image, awareness, difficulty managing emotions, behavior, as well as a pattern of unstable relationships. A big aspect of BPD is an intense fear of abandonment. Therefore, individuals with BPD usually have a difficult time being alone. This fear can end up presenting itself in inappropriate anger, mood swings, and impulsivity which results in pushing those around them away, despite their deep desire to have loving relationships. Keep reading to learn how to recognize nine symptoms of BPD.

What are some symptoms of BPD?

There are many symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder that can manifest themselves in individuals, but there are nine primary symptoms of BPD for which you can look. These are frequently used in the diagnosis of BPD, and the treatment following it.

1. An intense fear of abandonment.

This fear will involve the individual with BPD taking extreme measures to avoid both real and imagined rejection, or even something simple such as temporary separation. This can be triggered from something as innocent as a loved one going away for the weekend or arriving home late from work. The actions resulting from these menial incidents can involve clinging, begging, fighting, obsessive tracking, and more.

2. A pattern of unstable relationships.

People with BPD tend to fall in love quickly and fall out of love just as fast. They frequently will meet someone and believe that this individual will be the one to save them and make them feel whole. For individuals with BPD, all relationships are categorized as either perfect or horrible, and everyone in their lives is either idolized or demonized. There is no middle ground. One way to think of it is that people with BPD live in a world of black and white, instead of the many colors of real life.

3. An unclear and shifting self-image.

BPD typically accompanies an extremely unstable sense of self. This means that individuals with BPD tend to struggle with their feelings towards themselves. They usually don’t have a clear idea of who they are as individuals or what they want in life. This results in frequent changes in friends, jobs, partners, and more. An unstable sense of self can also manifest as dissociation, and not seeing themselves as if they even exist.

4. Impulsive and/or self-destructive behaviors.

This is one of the traits that really sets BPD apart from the myriad of mental health illnesses it has similarities with. These types of behaviors can include binge eating, shoplifting, reckless spending, binge drinking, drug abuse, and more.

5. Self-harm.

This can be quite a difficult topic to discuss, both for those surrounding individuals with BPD as well as the individuals themselves. Regarding individuals with BPD specifically, this symptom can range anywhere from self-harm with no suicidal intent, to attempts on their own life. This behavior can be a coping mechanism to try and control the flood of emotions they constantly experience, or as a form of punishment that is connected to feelings of low self-worth.

6. Mood swings.

Speaking of a flood of emotions, BPD often involves a wide range of mood swings that last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. This is why BPD can be misinterpreted as Bipolar Disorder. However, these mood swings differ from Bipolar Disorder and depression because they pass more quickly. Unfortunately, this can mean that the mood swings are brushed off by many and not recognized as a symptom. It’s similar to when you were a teenager and would be extremely moody, or on your period when you cry randomly, except BPD individuals have these almost every day without a physical and understandable cause.

7. Ongoing feelings of emptiness.

Individuals with BPD often feel extremely empty, describing it as a void or hole within themselves. These feelings can make them feel as if they are nothing and worthless. This can link to the impulsive behaviors, as they may use drugs, food, or sex to try to fill the void they are experiencing without success. These actions demonstrate the cyclical nature of Borderline Personality Disorder symptoms and how closely they are interwoven – making them even more difficult to treat.

8. Anger.

A lot of people with BPD struggle with intense anger and a short temper while also having difficulty controlling it once it hits. They can be consumed by it and resort to throwing things, yelling, hitting things or even people. This symptom is commonly viewed only as a symptom of Bipolar Disorder. However, this anger is not always directed outwards, and much of it is directed towards themselves, which can lead to the self-harm mentioned earlier.

9. Loss of contact with reality.

Dissociative feelings can occur for individuals with BPD and can cause them to lose touch with not only reality, but also with their own body. They can feel foggy and spaced out, experience paranoia, and have suspicious thoughts about others’ motives. Therefore, it is common for individuals with BPD to feel like everyone is out to get them.

Living with Borderline Personality Disorder is hard when you don’t have the proper help and care that you need. It is also extremely difficult to watch someone you love experiencing symptoms of BPD. If you feel like you or a loved one may have BPD, there are so many people who would love to help you. Reach out today to a licensed therapist or psychiatrist to learn more about BPD. Already diagnosed? See if you qualify to be part of a clinical trial to explore other treatment options!