10 Common Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder

Updated in November 2021

To confirm if borderline personality disorder is, in fact, present, it is important to be aware of symptoms like fluctuations in mood and impulsivity. If you suspect you have borderline personality disorder, talk to a psychologist or psychologist. He or she can initiate treatment if a diagnosis is confirmed.

Normally,  symptoms of borderline personality disorder first emerge during adolescence. Sometimes these symptoms can be confused with a "mere rebellious phase" in the teenage years, but in most cases, the intensity of symptoms actually lessons in adulthood.

Diagnosis can be confirmed with an evaluation of all symptoms the patient is presenting with.

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Main symptoms

Some symptoms that may be present with borderline personality disorder are:

  1. Intensely negative feelings, like fear, shame, shyness, panic and anger that are not proportionate or appropriate to the actual situation
  2. Unstable relationships with others and with themselves, like accepting that a person has good intentions but suddenly thinking they are evil
  3. Fear of being abandoned by people they are close with, like friends and family, and even going at great lengths to avoid abandonment (like threatening suicide)
  4. Difficulty controlling emotions, like crying easily or having sudden surges of euphoria
  5. Addictive tendencies, like gambling, spending money impulsively, or excessive intake of food or alcohol
  6. Low self-esteem, thinking they are inferior in comparison to others
  7. Impulsive and risky behaviour, like unprotected sex, drug abuse or intentionally breaking laws
  8. Not trusting themselves or other people
  9. A never-ending feeling of emptiness, and feelings of rejection
  10. Difficulty taking criticism and overestimating themselves in many situations

Symptoms of borderline personality disorder can emerge during changes in routine (like going on holiday or if an appointment is rescheduled), resulting in feelings of intense anger. Nonetheless, these symptoms are most common in people who experienced heavily emotional or stressful situations during childhood, like going through an illness, experiencing a death in the family, experiencing negligence, or sexual abuse. 

Borderline personality disorder test

If you have any of the above symptoms, assess your risk for borderline personality disorder with the test below:

Complications of borderline personality disorder

Borderline personality disorder can negatively affect intimate and family relationships, and can cause the dissolution of a support network that would have otherwise been beneficial. The end of these relationships can augment the feeling of loneliness. It is also common for those with borderline personality disorder to have difficulty keeping their job and difficulty with managing their financial affairs.

Additionally, in more severe cases, the constant feeling of sadness can lead to suicidal thoughts or attempts.

How borderline personality disorder is treated

Borderline personality disorder is not completely curable, but it can be managed with a combination of prescription medication as indicated by a psychiatrist. These medications can include mood stabilizers, antidepressants, tranquilizers and antipsychotics.

Psychotherapy is the gold-standard for treatment of borderline personality disorder. A psychologist can help the patient to reduce the intensity of their symptoms and teach them how to control or cope with their impulsivity and emotions. The types of therapy most indicated for borderline personality disorder are dialectical behavior therapy (particularly for patients demonstrating suicidal behaviour), cognitive behavioural therapy, family therapy and individual psychotherapy. 

Because borderline personality disorder is so complex, the length of psychotherapy required can range from several months to several years.