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Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Month

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In May of 2007, the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder (NEABPD) organized hearings before congress to educate legislators about Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). A year later, in April, 2008 the U.S. House of Representatives declared May as Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Month.

BPD is one of the most misunderstood diagnoses in mental health. It also comes with serious stigma and negative baggage, which shows up not only in the general population, but also among mental health professionals.

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a complex severe mental illness that is characterized by poor interpersonal relationships, mood instability and unstable self-image and behavior. Personality disorders represent “an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the individual’s culture” per the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual on Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). These patterns tend to be fixed and consistent across situations and leads to distress or impairment.

Personality disorders usually begin early in childhood or the teenage years and are often ingrained in early adulthood, making these disorders very difficult to treat. Borderline personality disorder is the most prevalent and the most serious out of all the personality disorders as it is commonly associated with self-harm behavior and often co-occurs with eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia nervosa.

Statistics and Facts

  • 75% of people diagnosed with BPD are women; that’s a ratio of 3 women to 1 man diagnosed with BPD
  • In the United States, recent research has shown that 1.6% of the population has BPD
  • About 70% of people with BPD will make at least one suicide attempt in their lifetimes
  • Between 8 and 10 percent of people with BPD will complete suicide
  • 55-85% of adults with BPD engage in self-harm behaviors
  • 20% of inpatients admitted to psychiatric hospitals have BPD

Risk factors

  • Trauma
  • History of abuse
  • Inability to handle stress
  • Impulsive personality
  • Substance abuse
  • Past diagnosis of eating disorder
  • Genetics

Signs and Symptoms

  • Drastic measures to avoid real or imagined abandonment; this does not include suicidal or self-mutilating behavior
  • Patterns of intense and unstable interpersonal relationships, characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation
  • Unstable sense of self or self-image
  • Impulsive behaviors in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating)
  • Recurrent suicidal behaviors, throughts or threats
  • Self harm behaviors such as cutting
  • Unstable and reactive moods that are characterized by irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (frequent displays of temper, constant anger, or recurrent physical fights
  • Transient, stress-related paranoia or out of body experiences

Co-occurring disorders

When two or more mental health disorders and/or substance abuse disorders occur together, this is known as a co-occurring disorder. The following often coexist with borderline personality disorder:

  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Binge eating disorder
  • Non-suicidal self-injury
  • Suicidality
  • Conduct disorder
  • Substance abuse


Borderline personality disorder is very difficult to treat and a combination of psychotherapy approaches and medication management is often used to help control the anxiety, depression, and transient psychosis associated with borderline personality disorder. Individuals with BPD tend to be impulsive and therefore frequently overdose on medications and therefore antidepressants and mood stabilizers must be monitored and prescribed with caution. Additionally individuals with borderline personality disorder often have boundary issues and try to push the envelope with their treatment team by being seductive and making false allegations and therefore strict boundaries must be determined during the initial treatment assessment.

About AKUA Mind and Body

AKUA Mind and Body is a full-service treatment center that provides residential treatment, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, and virtual treatment to both men and women struggling with a substance use disorder, dependency, a mental health disorder, or both (co-occurring disorder). AKUA Mind and Body provides compassionate, evidence-based treatment to all individuals and families. We combine evidence-based medications and psychotherapy approaches with holistic therapies such as meditation, yoga, and equine therapy, as we believe in treating the mind, body, and spirit.

Our clinical staff and ancillary treatment teams take great pride in the care that we provide to our clients and their families. From intake to discharge, we believe in treating the client as an individual and not just treating the disorder. As a result, we provide individualized treatment plans for every client. We offer our treatment services across many locations in California, including Orange County, Newport Beach, San Diego, and Sacramento.

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