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Borderline personality disorder (BPD) diagnosis

2-minute read

There is no single test to diagnose borderline personality disorder (BPD). If you think you or someone you know has symptoms of BPD, the first step is to see your doctor.

It may take weeks or months to get a diagnosis. A health professional needs to get to know you properly first.

They will need to do a complete mental health assessment, with questions about the current symptoms, past history such as suicide attempts, medical history, relationships and family background such as childhood trauma.

To be diagnosed for BPD, you need to have at least 5 of the following:

  • frantic efforts to avoid real or imaginary abandonment
  • consistently intense and unstable relationships with other people
  • persistently distorted self-image or sense of self
  • at least 2 impulsive behaviours that are potentially self-damaging
  • ongoing self-harming behaviour, suicidal behaviour or threats
  • intense feelings lasting hours to days
  • long-term, chronic feelings of loneliness and emptiness
  • difficulty controlling intense and inappropriate anger
  • feeling disconnected from reality, or having paranoid thoughts

Teenagers may start showing the symptoms of BPD, but to be diagnosed they need to have symptoms that are severe enough to persistently interfere with daily functioning for 1 year or longer. A teenager with BPD symptoms has much more severe and long-lasting symptoms than a typical moody teen.

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:

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Last reviewed: December 2018

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