Do you remember that extremely possessive friend of yours? the one who gets hugely disappointed when you begin talking to other people. Someone who is often ready to go to any extent to stay in a relationship? Someone who has undergone a number of stormy relationships which usually begin like a fairy tale and end like a nightmare? Someone who breaks something every time they get angry? Someone who tends to cut or harm themselves when in distress, and has made suicide attempts in the past? Someone who gets emotionally involved in amazingly short periods of time?
If the answer is yes, your friend may have some features of borderline personality disorder. Continue reading to learn how you can help.
One’s personality is composed of a combination of one’s own self-image and a collection of coping mechanisms aimed at maintaining that self-image. While some people have highly effective coping mechanisms, that let them breeze through stressful situations. A few others have major difficulties in dealing with problems and setbacks.
What are the symptoms of borderline personality disorder?
- Fears of abandonment.
- Intense but quickly changing emotions.
- Poor self-image, which alternates according to mood state.
- Difficulty in controlling impulses (such as binge eating, rash driving, excessive drinking, breaking stuff and violent behavior).
- Repeated suicidal threats and acts of self-harm ( cutting, scarring oneself).
- Anger issues.
- An inability to see one’s contribution to the difficulty in a difficult situation.
- An unstable sense of self.
- Over dependence on relationships.
- Paranoia and a loss of touch from realty at times.
- Borderline personality is sometimes confused with bipolar disorder, it often requires reliable an detailed history to differentiate the two.
What causes borderline personality disorder?
One ‘s personality develops as a consequence of a complex interplay between genetic, personal and environmental factors. Aberrant parenting styles, broken families, childhood neglect and abuse can predispose to the development of a dysfunctional personality. A history of childhood sexual abuse has been noticed in greater proportion among those diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.
How can you help?
When you identify features of borderline personality disorder in yourself or a loved one, please remember that borderline personality disorder does not equate to “being a bad person”. Those suffering are usually under immense stress, considering their coping mechanisms are highly ineffective. Do not get drawn into explanations and fights
You can help by acknowledging the distress they undergo, whilst gently pointing to alternate ways to which they can react appropriately. Learn to validate their emotions without dismissing them as temper tantrums.
For example ““I know that you regret your actions and that makes you think you are a bad person, I understand how you feel”
Most importantly, try to make one aware that their behavior is causing distress to themselves and others around them, this would prompt them to either take help or try to modify their behaviors appropriately. Try getting them to seek professional help when self-help doesn’t seem to work.
What are the treatment options ?
The mainstay in the treatment of borderline personality disorder is psychotherapy. Effective therapeutic modalities include cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy and mentalization based therapy. Medications may help in reducing impulsivity and improving mood. Improvement is not linear and several ups and downs will be seen throughout the treatment process. Over time, self image has to be built from within and long term problematic coping strategies let go off. The goal of therapy is to slowly replace the harmful ways of thinking and behavior with more adaptive ways of thinking, relating and behaving.