Below are some of the most frequently asked questions, and their answers, about Borderline Personality Disorder.

What is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)?

The main feature of borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a long pattern of instability in their relationships with others, and in their own self-image and emotions. People with borderline personality disorder are also usually very impulsive. The instable pattern of interacting with others has persisted for years and is usually closely related to the person’s self-image and early social interactions. The pattern is present in a variety of settings (e.g., not just at work or home) and often is accompanied by a similar lability (fluctuating back and forth, sometimes in a quick manner) in a person’s emotions and feelings. Relationships and the person’s emotion may often be characterized as being shallow. The disorder occurs in most by early adulthood.

How common is Borderline Personality Disorder?

It is not very common, and is estimated to be found in 1 to 2% of the general U.S. population at any give time. It is more common amongst people seeking treatment for another mental disorder.

How does Borderline Personality Disorder cause problems?

Like any mental health issue, borderline personality disorder causes problems in a person’s social and life functioning by interfering with the person’s ability to reliably maintain these relationships or their everyday living. People with this disorder often cause a great amount of stress or conflict in relationships with others, especially significant others or those who are very close to the person. This can often lead to divorce, physical, sexual or emotional abuse, additional emotional problems (such as an eating disorder or depression), losing one’s job, estrangement from one’s family, and more.

What is the course of Borderline Personality Disorder?

There is considerable variability in the course of Borderline Personality Disorder. The most common pattern is one of chronic instability in early adulthood, with episodes of serious loss of emotion and impulsive control, as well as high levels of use of health and mental health resources. The impairment from the disorder and the risk of suicide are greatest in the young-adult years and gradually wane with advancing age. During their 30s and 40s, the majority of individuals with this disorder attain greater stability in their relationships and job functioning.

Is Borderline Personality Disorder inherited?

Borderline Personality Disorder is about five times more common among first-degree biological relatives of those with the disorder than in the general population. There is also an increased familial risk for Substance-Related Disorders (e.g., drug abuse), Antisocial Personality Disorder, and Mood Disorders, like depression or bipolar disorder.

Where can I go to learn more about Borderline Personality Disorder?

Psych Central has a reviewed list of resources you can consult for further information about Borderline Personality Disorder. We also recommend the following two books to understand more about this disorder: