Frequently asked questions


FAQs about borderline personality disorder

Below you can find the answers to our most frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) from our service users about borderline personality disorder, it’s causes, symptoms, diagnosis and more. 

If you have any other questions about BPD, please use our chat option in the bottom right of your screen, or drop us  an email


Your questions answered

It’s a common misconception that BPD patients are dangerous. In fact, there is more likelihood of a person with BPD hurting themselves than others. Self-harm and suicidal thoughts are much more common in BPD patients than people without the condition.

BPD and psychopathy are very different disorders. Psychopathy is characterised by a lack of ability to love or establish meaningful relationships, whereas people with BPD tend to experience extremes of positive emotions such as love and attraction.

If your GP has discussed your symptoms and believes you may have borderline personality disorder, they should arrange for you to see a psychiatrist. They may also send your details to the local community mental health team (CMHT), and may also arrange talking therapy.

Patients with borderline personality disorder experience extreme emotions, including positive emotions. Studies show that BPD patients often have superior emotional empathy.

Like any mental health issue, BPD can cause problems in everyday life, by interfering with the patients ability to maintain personal, social and work relationships. People with BPD often struggle with emotions and impulse control, which can cause stress on their relationships, increase the risk of abuse and lead to additional problems such as eating disorders or substance abuse.

There are several ways you can help someone with BPD. Most important is to listen, validate their feelings, and communicate without judgement. You can also find out more about BPD, and generally be there for them.

BPD is not very common, with an estimated 1-2% of the population living with BPD.

There is no right way to explain your disorder to your loved ones, but the best way to explain BPD is to talk about how it affects you. You could explain that you have difficulty regulating emotions, and that you sometimes have ‘black and white’ thinking, and so you might think they have hurt or upset you even if they haven’t. You could explain that you sometimes feel overwhelmed by emotion and act impulsively or recklessly because of it. You can also ask them to learn about BPD themselves, so they can understand how to help you.

After a discussion with your GP, and any physical exam/blood tests to rule out physical health conditions that may be causing symptoms, you should be refered to a psychiatrist who will assess you by going over your symptoms and medical history.

There isn’t a medical test to confirm BPD. To diagnose BPD, a GP would carry out physical exams or blood tests to rule out any health conditions, then a psychiatrist would assess your symptoms over one or more sessions before diagnosis.

How long the diagnosis will take depends on the types of medical tests or interviews that will  need to be completed. It may also take longer if there is a waiting list for psychiatric assessment. Complex cases with co-morbid conditions (such as eating disorders, substance abuse, depression disorders and anxiety) will take longer to reach diagnosis.

Studies have shown that BPD is more common among close relatives – parents, siblings – than in the general population. While there is evidence to suggest that genetics may play a part in BPD, research is yet to confirm this.

As with other mental disorders, it is believed that BPD may be the result of a combination of factors – biology, genetics, extreme stress, abuse and/or trauma.

Sterotypically, people with BPD exhibit symptoms such as anger outburts, accusations towards others that are irrational, and self-destructive or impulsive behaviour. Having quiet BPD means that you direct any mood swings and behaviors inward (towards yourself), rather than directing them toward others. Quiet BPD can be difficult to diagnose.

‘Splitting’ is a commonly used term for a defense mechanism people living with BPD use subconsciously. It is an attempt to protect themselves against intense feelings such as abandonment, isolation and loneliness. People living with BPD often seek validation from others, which makes them more prone to splitting as an attempt to shield themselves from pain and anxiety. Find out more here.

There is no medication licensed to treat BPD. However, there are medications which can help alleviate symptoms including mood stabilisers, anxiety medication and anti-depressants.

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