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Borderline personality disorder

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental illness. It causes a person's moods, interpersonal relationships, self-image, and behavior to be unstable. This hurts family and work life, long-term planning, and the person's sense of self-identity. BPD is more common than both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, affecting 2 percent of adults, mostly young women.

A person with BPD may experience intense times of anger, depression, and anxiety that may last only hours, or, at most, a day. A person with BPD may also be aggressive, hurt herself, and abuse drugs or alcohol. She may often change long-term goals, career plans, jobs, friendships, gender identity, and values. Sometimes people with BPD view themselves as fundamentally bad, or unworthy. They may feel unfairly misunderstood or mistreated, bored, empty, and have little idea who they are.

People with BPD are often impulsive. They may spend too much money, binge eat, and have risky sex. BPD often occurs together with other mental health illnesses, including bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, and other personality disorders.

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Treatments for BPD have improved in recent years. Medication and/or therapy are at least somewhat effective for many patients.

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Content last updated: March 29, 2010.

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