Personality Disorders are conditions where an individual experiences significant difficulty in the way they think, perceive, feel or relate to others. Such conditions typically worsen with stress or depression. One common type is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). The main features of BPD are that of a pervasive pattern of instability in self-image, poor regulation of emotions, and unstable interpersonal relationships. Suicide behaviours are very common among persons with BPD.
Symptoms of BPD typically include:
- Unstable self-image
- Chronic feelings of emptiness
- Instability in goals, values, plans
- Intense, unstable and conflicted relationships
- Frequent mood swings
- Feelings of low mood
- Intense feelings of anxiety often in reaction to interpersonal stresses
- Fears of losing control
- Fears of rejection and abandonment
- Impairments in interpersonal functioning
- Impulsive and/or self-injurious behaviour
- Suicidal thoughts and plans
Psychotherapy is the main treatment for persons with BPD, and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) is particularly well suited to most persons. DBT recognises a person's dialectical need for acceptance and change through the synthesis of seemingly opposite perspectives to arrive at a new viewpoint.
It involves four core components: mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation and interpersonal effectiveness.
Mindfulness is the practice of being attentive and learning to take a non-judgmental stance to the current situation.
Distress tolerance focuses on stabilising the person through reducing self-injurious behaviours.
Emotions can be confusing and overwhelming for persons with BPD. Therefore, establising emotion regulation skills focuses on helping them understand their emotions and reduce their emotional vulnerability. Often, the way we communicate with one another has a significant impact on the quality and outcome of relationships.
Interpersonal effectiveness, coupled with mindfulness techniques, help persons with BPD learn to communicate in a deliberate and thoughtful manner, instead of reacting impulsively due to their intense emotions or stress.
Learning to cope with BPD through psychotherapy can help to improve your quality of life and relationship with others.