Researchers aren’t sure what causes borderline personality disorder, but studies suggest that genetic, environmental, and social factors may increase the risk of developing it. These factors may include:
Family history: People who have a close family member (such as a parent or sibling) with the illness may be at a higher risk of developing borderline personality disorder.
Brain structure and function: Research shows that people with borderline personality disorder may have structural and functional changes in the brain, especially in the areas that control impulses and emotion regulation. However, the studies do not demonstrate whether these changes were risk factors for the illness or if such changes were caused by the disorder.
Environmental, cultural, and social factors: Many people with borderline personality disorder report experiencing traumatic life events, such as abuse, abandonment, or hardship during childhood. Others may have been exposed to unstable, invalidating relationships or conflicts.
Although these factors may increase a person’s risk, it doesn’t mean it is certain that they’ll develop borderline personality disorder. Likewise, people without these risk factors may develop the disorder in their lifetime.
A licensed mental health professional—such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or clinical social worker—who is experienced in diagnosing and treating mental disorders can diagnose borderline personality disorder based on a thorough interview and a discussion about symptoms. A careful and thorough medical exam also can help rule out other possible causes of symptoms. In diagnosing the illness, providers will discuss a person’s symptoms and ask about family medical histories, including histories of mental illness.
Borderline Personality Disorder Test is usually diagnosed in late adolescence or early adulthood. Occasionally, a person younger than age 18 may be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder if symptoms are significant and last at least a year.
What other illnesses can co-occur with borderline personality disorder?
Borderline personality disorder often occurs with other mental illnesses, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These co-occurring disorders can make it harder to diagnose and treat borderline personality disorder, especially if symptoms of other illnesses overlap with symptoms of the disorder. For example, a person with borderline personality disorder also may be more likely to experience symptoms of major depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, or eating disorders.
Treatments and Therapies
Borderline personality disorder historically has been viewed as challenging to treat. But with newer, evidence-based treatment, many people with this disorder experience fewer and less severe symptoms, improved functioning, and better quality of life. It is important for patients with borderline personality disorder to receive treatment from a licensed mental health professional. Other types of treatment, or treatment from a provider who is not appropriately trained, may be ineffective or dangerous.
Many factors affect the length of time it takes for symptoms to improve once treatment begins. It is important for people with borderline personality disorder and their loved ones to be patient and receive support during treatment.