How Does BPD Impact Daily Life?

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a complex condition that impacts 1.4% of adults in the United States. While your experience is unique, you may recognize common symptoms of this condition, such as intense and unstable emotions or feelings of self-doubt. People with BPD may also struggle with relationships, behavior and identity. Fortunately, there are effective treatments for BPD.

With the right treatment and coping strategies, you can manage symptoms and lead a fulfilling life.

What Is BPD?

Borderline personality disorder is a mental health condition characterized by mood instability, inconsistent behavior, impulsive actions and self-image troubles. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) outlines the BPD diagnostic criteria as experiencing five or more of the following symptoms:

  • Struggles with sense of self and identity
  • Impulsive or self-damaging behaviors like substance misuse or reckless driving
  • Recurrent suicidal behavior, threats or self-injury
  • Fear of abandonment
  • Unstable and intense interpersonal relationships
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness or worthlessness
  • Intense anger or difficulty controlling anger
  • Labile moods
  • Stress-related paranoia or loss of contact with reality

While often confused for bipolar disorder, BPD and bipolar disorder are two separate conditions. To differentiate BPD vs. bipolar symptoms, note that bipolar disorder is characterized by episodes of mania or hypomania and depression, while those with BPD experience intense emotions like desperation, abandonment, anger and hopelessness.

Additionally, mood changes for people with BPD are often short-lived and last a few hours at a time, while bipolar episodes are much longer.

Recognizing BPD in Daily Life

BPD is a mind and body condition that typically manifests in the early teen years and gradually improves in adult life. While every experience is unique, here are some signs of BPD that can impact daily life:

Intense Emotions

People with BPD describe the condition as having an exposed nerve ending, where little things may feel intense and overwhelming to deal with. It can be tough to return to a stable state afterward, feeling as though you are drowning in your emotions or overflowing with feelings, whether it's happiness, sadness, shame, fear or something else.

Intense emotions may be triggered by social and interpersonal situations — people with BPD may be in mid-conversation and then suddenly find themselves overcome with feelings of shame or sadness they struggle to hold back.

Black and White Thinking

Intense emotions for people with BPD can be linked to thinking in extremes. BPD splitting is a common symptom and defense mechanism, causing a person to see everything in black and white or have all-or-nothing thinking.

Instead of working with complex relationships or situations, for example, BPD splitting may cause a person to see them all as good or bad — idealizing them or devaluing them. An example would be a person with BPD cutting someone out of their life and then expressing feelings of abandonment.

Identity Struggles

People with personality disorders may have trouble identifying how they feel and think about themselves and others. This can also impact their sense of self, so people feel like they don't know “who they are.” Identity disturbance in people with BPD may look like:

  • Objective inconsistencies in beliefs and behaviors
  • Overidentification with groups or roles
  • Difficulties committing to values and goals

People with BPD may feel isolated and alone, believing that no one can truly understand them. They may feel uncomfortable in their skin and have a higher risk of experiencing other mental health conditions, like depression. It can be challenging for them to sustain a stable job as a result.

Impulsive Behavior

People with BPD often act impulsively when most distressed. The inability to self-soothe can lead to reckless behaviors like:

  • Overspending or binge eating
  • Driving while under the influence
  • Engaging in unprotected sex
  • Using recreational drugs, alcohol or smoking to cope with emotions
  • Quitting or avoiding activities where you think you could fail
  • Frequently changing jobs, goals or hobbies

People with BPD may also constantly be on the move, seeking out new people to avoid feelings of loneliness and abandonment.

Relationship Turbulence

A history of traumatic experiences can be common in people with BPD, often stemming from the lack of emotional validation from caretakers as a child. As a result, people with BPD often have intense relationships with others. They may shift between the extremes of needing intimacy to rejection, causing unstable connections with people in their lives.

People with BPD may also conjure a close connection with a favorite person who becomes the target of their attention, adoration and sometimes indifference. A “BPD favorite person” could be anyone from a teacher to a best friend or family member. They may shower love and attachment on their favorite person before experiencing a strong dislike, often when they feel their emotional needs aren't being met.

For example, someone with BPD may feel affectionate one minute and then smothered or overwhelmed the next, causing them to push away their partner they had just been drawing closer. The dynamic can lead to rocky relationships.

BPD Treatment Options

Borderline personality treatment is one of the most stigmatized mental health conditions, and there is a misconception that it is difficult to treat. While a complex condition, newer, evidence-based treatments are offering those with BPD a better quality of life with fewer and less severe symptoms, such as:

  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT): DBT is a proactive approach to treating BPD. By teaching mindfulness and acceptance, DBT offers ways to control intense emotions and, ultimately, enhance relationships and lessen self-destructive behaviors.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT helps you identify and modify maladaptive (or unhelpful) thoughts and behaviors. It may help you reduce mood symptoms and anxiety while lowering the risk of suicidal ideation or self-harm behaviors.
  • Medications: While medications cannot cure BPD, they may help treat co-occurring conditions like depression, anxiety and impulsivity.

Additionally, self-care activities like regular exercise, getting plenty of restful sleep and eating a nutritious diet may help reduce common symptoms of BPD like mood changes, impulsive behavior and irritability.

Why Trust Us for BPD Treatment?

At Diamond House, we treat clients with evidence-based modalities under the guidance of experienced medical professionals. We have helped many people find peace with comprehensive psychological support, helping individuals with conditions like depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder.

Our goal is to treat every client as an individual. When you come to us, we will assess you to determine the best course of action. Expect compassionate, comprehensive and evidence-based care to help you lessen symptoms and improve your quality of life. Consider our testimonials for real accounts of the difference we can make in your life.

Reach Out to Diamond House for Comprehensive BPD Support

Borderline personality disorder is a complex condition that can lead to emotional dysregulation, relationship troubles and instability. If you or a loved one is experiencing BPD, you may find it difficult to function at work, school or home. If this sounds like you, do not hesitate to reach out to Diamond House. Our compassionate team of medical professionals will assess your needs and develop a comprehensive treatment program to support your path to wellness.

Contact us to learn more about how we can help with borderline personality disorder treatment in Northern California.