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Borderline personality disorder

Borderline personality disorder is a serious condition facing 18 million families in the United States. There is an immense amount of suffering by both patients and family members.

Borderline personality disorder, also known as emotionally unstable personality disorder, is a long term pattern of abnormal behavior characterized by unstable relationships with other people, unstable sense of self, and unstable emotions. There is often an extreme fear of abandonment, frequent dangerous behavior, a feeling of emptiness, and self-harm. Symptoms may be brought on by seemingly normal events. The behavior typically begins by early adulthood, and occurs across a variety of situations. Substance abuse, depression, and eating disorders are commonly associated with BPD.

The cause of BPD is unclear but is believed to involve both genetic and environmental factors. Twin studies suggest that the condition is partly inherited from one's parents. The mechanism of the condition appears to involve the frontolimbic networks of neurons. BPD is recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) as personality disorder along with nine other such disorders. Diagnosis is based on the symptoms while a medical exam may be done to rule out other problems. The condition must be differentiated from an identity problem or substance use disorders.

Borderline personality disorder is typically treated with therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Another type, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) has been found to reduce the risk of suicide. Therapy may occur one-on-one, or in a group. While medications do not cure BPD, they may be used to help with the associated symptoms. Some people require care in hospital.

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