Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a complex mental disorder that affects people’s thoughts, emotions and behaviours, making it difficult to cope in all areas of life.
The core features of borderline personality disorder are intense, uncontrollable emotions, a pattern of troublesome relationships and a disturbed sense of self or identity. People with BPD may appear to lead chaotic lives, act impulsively or intentionally harm themselves as a method of coping.
Borderline personality disorder can be difficult for other people to understand, and people with this disorder are often unfairly stigmatised.
Even the name can be confusing, as it was originally named because the symptoms seemed to be ‘on the border’ between psychotic and neurotic disorders. However, many health professionals agree it needs a more appropriate name.
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 commonly diagnosed 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. There is a high risk of self-harm and suicide associated with BPD, although not everyone with the disorder will harm themselves.
The good news is that with treatment and understanding, people with borderline personality disorder can lead fulfilling lives.
If you or someone you know has BPD and exhibits any risk of suicide then seek medical attention urgently. This is a serious situation.
Last reviewed: December 2016