Most of the time, signs
of the disorder first appear in childhood. But problems often don't start until
early adulthood. Treatment can be hard, and getting better can take years.
Problems with emotions and behaviors are hard to improve. But
with treatment, most people with severe
symptoms do get better over time.
Omar Epps, co-star of Fox's hit medical drama House, also co-stars in a TV, radio, and online campaign to help stop suicide among members of the military.
"The high rate of suicide in the military -- we wanted to shine some light on that," says Epps, referring to the star-studded cast of the public service announcements. "If there's any drop as a result, that's a good thing."
Epps joins a host of other celebrities -- including Michael Chiklis, Melissa Leo, Terrell Owens, and Alfre Woodard -- who...
know exactly what causes borderline personality disorder. Problems with chemicals in the brain that help
control moods may play a role. It also seems to run in
Often, people who get it faced some kind of childhood
trauma such as abuse, neglect, or the death of a parent. The risk is higher when people who had childhood trauma also have problems
anxiety or stress.
What are the symptoms?
Everyone has problems with
emotions or behaviors sometimes. But if you have borderline personality
disorder, the problems are severe, repeat over a long time, and disrupt your
life. The most common symptoms include:
Intense emotions and mood swings.
Harmful, impulsive behaviors. These may include things like substance
binge eating, out-of-control spending, risky sexual behavior, and reckless
Relationship problems. You may see others as either "good" or
"bad" and may shift from one view to the other suddenly, for minor reasons. This can make relationships very difficult.
A frantic fear of being left alone
(abandoned). This fear may lead to frantic attempts to hold on to those around
you. Or it may cause you to reject others before they can
Times when you feel paranoid or lose a sense of reality (psychosis).
It's easy to confuse this disorder with other mental
illnesses. And they may overlap. So if you think that
you or someone you know may have borderline personality disorder, see a doctor.
Don't try to diagnose yourself.
How is it treated?
Borderline personality disorder can be hard to treat. It's common for symptoms to return. And many people with the disorder have troubled relationships with their counselors and doctors.
But you can take steps to help control the disorder. Long-term treatment can reduce symptoms and harmful behaviors and help you better manage your emotions. Treatment may include:
Counseling and therapy. It's important to find a counselor you can build a stable relationship with. This can be hard, because your condition may cause you to see your counselor as caring one minute and cruel the next, especially when he or she asks you to
try to change a behavior. Try to find a counselor who has special training in
dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) to treat this disorder.
Medicines, such as antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and antipsychotics. In combination with counseling or therapy, they may be helpful in treating symptoms of borderline personality disorder.
Healthy habits, such as getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, getting regular exercise, and avoiding alcohol and drugs. These habits can help reduce stress and anxiety. And they can help make your symptoms less severe and less frequent.