The stigma around mental health disorders is slowly breaking down. More people are learning about mental health issues, but while many people understand anxiety and depression there are still many misconceptions about borderline personality disorder (BPD). BPD is not easy to understand even for healthcare professionals. To help people understand this mental health disorder better, we’ve debunked some of the most common myths about borderline personality disorder.
The truth is that BPD is a difficult disorder to treat, but it absolutely can be treated. People with BPD often feel helpless and don’t seek treatment because of this misconception. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is the most popular treatment for BPD but there are medications and other forms of therapy available for treatment as well. As with any mental illness, treatment takes hard work and time, but people with BPD can lead very good lives!
BPD and bipolar disorder are completely different, however, they are often confused for one another. The symptoms of these disorders are very similar. And many people with BPD get a different diagnosis of bipolar disorder in the beginning. It is also possible for people to have both BPD and bipolar disorder. Many healthcare providers lack information on borderline personality disorder, but thankfully that is changing and leading to more initially correct diagnoses.
All genders are impacted by BPD, but it is true that women have higher rates of it. Women are around 3 times more likely to get a borderline personality disorder diagnosis than men. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean women are more likely to develop it. It is possible that there are fewer diagnoses for men. Or, that their symptoms are the result of other disorders. Finally, they don’t seek treatment as often.
As with most other mental illnesses, doctors do not know exactly what causes it. There are many things that people believe to cause BPD, one of which is childhood abuse. This abuse could be physical, sexual, emotional, or neglect. However, 10-20% of people with BPD have no known childhood trauma. While childhood trauma can cause BPD, it does not always. And not everyone with borderline personality disorder has childhood abuse.
The name “borderline personality disorder” is often invalidating for the severity of the illness. The term “borderline” leads people to think that this is a condition bordering on the edge of real mental illness. However, the term’s initial intention was to describe patients that border between neurosis and psychosis. Due to how difficult BPD is to diagnosis and treat, for a long time people questioned whether it was its own individual illness. Today, doctors know that BPD is not only a real mental illness, but it is also a serious one.
Since 2003, the Delray Center for Healing has provided exceptional psychiatric and therapeutic care for mental health, eating, and substance use disorders. To learn more about our philosophy and treatment approach, download our free e-book, “Psychiatry Redefined,” written by our founder and medical director, Raul J. Rodriguez, MD.