What do all these letters mean?: BPD

What do all these letters mean?: BPD

The therapy world is filled with so many acronyms and it can get confusing and overwhelming. Each week, I will break down several of the acronyms you may have heard or read about.

This week is BPD

Borderline personality disorder, is often abbreviated BPD. The best way to explain it to people through a popular book about BPD called, I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me. The biggest characteristic with BPD is variability in moods and in behaviors which can appear impulsive. These individuals display wide varieties of behaviors including anger, rage, depression, and anxiety. These behaviors often become problematic and cause difficulty functioning in relationships which is a key indicator of a BPD diagnosis.

But why is it called borderline? What are these individuals actually on the borderline of? Original psychiatrists observing this behaviors in the early 20th century developed the term to describe patients who are on the border of psychosis and neurosis. Psychosis meaning losing touch with reality, while neurosis more of a mild form of mental illness related to extreme stress, anxiety, or obsession.

Borderline personality disorder may cause difficulty regulating emotions in which individuals use extreme measure to regulate mood include self-harming in ways such as cutting. Additionally, they may have extreme thoughts of death or suicide.

BPD may mimic other mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or depression and it often takes years to notice these patterns before an accurate diagnosis may be made. Symptoms often begin in young adolescence, and the symptoms become clearer as these children move into adulthood. Therefore, more individuals receiving this diagnosis are young adults.

For individuals with BPD, I often implement therapeutic techniques from DBT, or dialectical behavior therapy, to discuss emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and improving interpersonal skills. You can read more about DBT here. This is a specific form of therapy created for use with individuals with BPD.