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Borderline personality disorder (BPD)

2-minute read

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a common mental disorder that can be treated. It affects people’s thoughts, emotions and behaviours, making it difficult for them to cope in all areas of life.

People with BPD feel intense, uncontrollable emotions, which can make them very distressed and angry. They have trouble with their relationships and find it hard to feel comfortable in themselves. They may be very impulsive and appear to lead chaotic lives, act impulsively or intentionally harm themselves as a way of coping.

Borderline personality disorder can be difficult for other people to understand. It can be distressing for the person with BPD and the people around them, and it’s often misunderstood.

It’s the most common personality disorder in Australia, affecting about 1-4% of the population at some time in their lives. It's more common in women, and usually the symptoms appear in the teenage years or early adulthood.

If you or someone you know has or is suspected of having BPD, it’s important to seek help. People with BPD are at high risk of self-harm and suicide, although not everyone with the disorder will harm themselves.

The good news is that with treatment and understanding, people with BPD can lead fulfilling lives.

If you or someone you know has BPD and you think there is any risk of suicide, then seek medical attention urgently. This is a serious situation.

Where to get help

If you need someone to talk to, or want to find out more online, here are some organisations that might be able to help:

Last reviewed: December 2018

Need more information?

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