9 Tips on How to Recognize Someone With Borderline Personality Disorder

4) The person tries to kill him — or herself or engages in self-mutilation. If you witness this behavior in anyone, immediately call 911.

5) The person is intensely reactive to situations or events that most people would just ignore or brush off. My patient’s reaction to the positive news about her cancer is a good example. Another example is the way a person with BPD might obsess about a situation or statement. If someone tells this individual something in an angry way, then he or she might keep thinking about the statement obsessively and cannot “let it go.”

6) He or she constantly feels empty or not really there. My patient reported these feelings of emptiness many times and often thought she wasn’t really in this world.

7) Anger is their most common emotion even when other feelings might be more appropriate. For example, when a person with BPD learns he/she has won a game in tennis, he or she might rant about the opponent instead of just enjoying the victory.

8) Paranoid thoughts are common. People with this disorder often become paranoid and imagine that people are “colluding” against them.]

9) These people act impulsively and in self-damaging ways, for example, engaging in compulsive sex, binge-eating or gambling. Because of this, BPD can often be confused with other personality disorders, such as histrionic personality disorder.

If you think a friend, co-worker or family member might be suffering from borderline personality disorder, encourage him or her to seek treatment. Sometimes, it’s best to avoid personal contact or deal with the person only in a group setting, such as the workplace or group outings. The most important tool is not to internalize the person’s behavior, or take it too personally. Remember it’s not about you. People with borderline personality disorder aren’t fully aware of their behavior and the effect on other people. Try to be as sympathetic as you can, but maintain appropriate boundaries to protect yourself.

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