Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental illness that causes significant fluctuation in a person’s emotions, leaving him or her feeling severely emotionally unstable. People with BPD suffer from inflexible patterns of inner experiences that result in inconsistent outward behaviors. Individuals suffering from borderline personality disorder endure everyday battles with conflicting images of themselves, with dramatic shifts in mood and thought patterns, and with tumultuous relationships.
It is estimated that anywhere between six to ten million Americans are affected by borderline personality disorder. This equates to about 2-6% of the general population and is twice the amount of people who are diagnosed with both bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
Borderline personality disorder is strikingly more prominent in women than it is in men. In fact, studies have shown that 75-90% of all people diagnosed with BPD are women. It is possible that this could simply be due to the fact that women are more apt to seek treatment for the disorder than men are, or it could potentially be due to the fact that sometimes the way that the symptoms of BPD present themselves in men lead to a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder as opposed to BPD.
Causes and Risk Factors for Borderline Personality Disorder
Some causes and risk factors that could possibly contribute to the onset of BPD can include:
Genetic: Studies that have been conducted in families of individuals diagnosed with BPD have shown that first-degree relatives of those individuals are approximately 10 times more likely to develop symptoms of the illness as well. That being said, the amount of impact that genetics has on the development and presence of BPD has yet to be conclusively identified.
Physical: Studies on brains of people with borderline personality disorder have shown abnormalities in the aspects of the brain that affect proper functioning. Those specific brain pathways and circuits act as behavioral functions of emotion information processing, impulse control, perception, and reasoning. When there is a disruption in this functioning, symptoms of BPD may result.