Borderline Personality Disorder – Symptoms and How to Recognize It

Published on May 18th, 2023

Picture this: Emma wakes up every morning, unsure of what the day will bring. Some days, she feels on top of the world, radiating with joy and confidence. But on other days, she finds herself drowning in a sea of overwhelming emotions, feeling empty and lost. 

Emma's experiences are not unique. They are the telltale signs of a complex mental health condition known as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

In this blog post, we will embark on a journey to unravel the mysteries of Borderline Personality Disorder. We will explore the symptoms and delve into the challenges faced by individuals living with this condition. By understanding the complexities of BPD, we can foster empathy, offer support, and shed light on the path to healing. 

So, let's dive in and discover the world of Borderline Personality Disorder – a condition that affects millions of individuals and their loved ones worldwide.

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Borderline Personality Disorder is a mental health condition characterized by emotional dysregulation, unstable relationships, and an unstable sense of self. Individuals with BPD often experience intense emotions that can fluctuate rapidly, making it challenging to manage their feelings effectively. They may struggle with a deep fear of abandonment, have difficulty establishing a stable identity, and exhibit impulsive behaviors.

It is essential to recognize that BPD is not a personal choice or character flaw but a legitimate mental health condition that requires understanding and support. By gaining a deeper understanding of its symptoms, we can foster empathy and offer the necessary assistance to individuals with BPD.

Recognizing the Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder

Recognizing the symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is vital in understanding and supporting individuals who may be affected by this condition. BPD manifests in various ways, and each person's experience may differ. However, there are common symptoms that can help identify the presence of BPD. 

Let's explore these symptoms in more detail:

1. Intense Emotional Swings

One of the hallmark symptoms of BPD is the presence of intense emotional swings. Individuals with BPD often experience emotions that can rapidly fluctuate, leading to feelings of extreme happiness, sadness, anger, or anxiety. These emotional shifts can occur within short periods, leaving individuals feeling overwhelmed and emotionally exhausted. It is not uncommon for someone with BPD to go from feeling elated and full of energy to suddenly experiencing a deep sense of despair or emptiness.

Managing these intense emotions can be challenging, and it may feel like being on an emotional roller coaster. Everyday situations that may seem minor to others can trigger intense emotional reactions for someone with BPD. These emotional swings can disrupt daily life, relationships, and overall well-being. It is important to approach individuals with empathy and understanding, recognizing that their emotional experiences are genuine and may require additional support.

2. Unstable Relationships

Individuals with BPD often struggle with maintaining stable and healthy relationships. They may experience an intense fear of abandonment and have difficulty managing feelings of rejection. This fear of abandonment can manifest in various ways, such as becoming overly dependent on others, constantly seeking reassurance, or displaying impulsive behaviors to avoid being left alone.

People with BPD may also exhibit a pattern of idealizing and devaluing others. They might place others on a pedestal, viewing them as perfect, only to abruptly shift to seeing them as entirely negative or unworthy. These extreme shifts in perception can strain relationships and lead to frequent conflicts.

It is important to remember that these relationship challenges stem from the underlying struggles individuals with BPD face in regulating their emotions and maintaining a stable sense of self. Providing understanding, patience, and open communication can help navigate the complexities of relationships with someone experiencing BPD.

3. Distorted Self-Image

Another key symptom of BPD is a distorted self-image. Individuals with BPD may struggle with developing a stable and cohesive sense of self. They may experience chronic feelings of emptiness, an undefined identity, and a lack of clear goals or aspirations. This sense of emptiness can drive impulsive behaviors and a search for external validation and meaning.

People with BPD may also engage in self-destructive behaviors as a way to cope with their emotional turmoil or gain a sense of control. These behaviors can include self-harm, substance abuse, or engaging in risky activities. It is essential to approach individuals with BPD with compassion and support, understanding that these behaviors may serve as temporary relief or an attempt to regulate overwhelming emotions.

Recognizing the distorted self-image experienced by individuals with BPD allows for a more empathetic and supportive approach. By providing validation, promoting self-discovery, and encouraging the development of healthy coping mechanisms, we can support individuals in establishing a more stable and positive sense of self.

How to Support Someone With Borderline Personality Disorder

Supporting someone with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) requires empathy, understanding, and patience. By offering a supportive environment, you can play a crucial role in their journey towards healing and stability. 

Here are some practical ways to support someone with BPD:

Educate Yourself

Take the time to educate yourself about BPD. Learn about the symptoms, triggers, and treatment options. This knowledge will help you understand their experiences better and respond in a more empathetic manner.

Practice Active Listening

Be present and attentive when they express their feelings and concerns. Listen without judgment and offer a safe space for open communication. Validate their experiences and let them know that their feelings are heard and acknowledged.

Encourage Professional Help

Encourage the individual to seek professional mental health support from a licensed therapist or counselor who specializes in treating BPD. Professional support can provide them with the necessary tools and coping strategies to manage their symptoms effectively.

Establish Boundaries

It is essential to set and maintain healthy boundaries in your relationship. Clearly communicate your needs and limitations while respecting theirs. Boundaries can help create a sense of stability and promote a healthier dynamic.

Practice Self-Care

Taking care of yourself is equally important when supporting someone with BPD. Engage in activities that rejuvenate and replenish your own mental and emotional well-being. This will enable you to provide support from a place of strength and stability.

Encourage Healthy Coping Mechanisms

Help the individual explore and develop healthy coping mechanisms that can assist in managing their emotions and stress. This may include engaging in regular exercise, practicing mindfulness techniques, or pursuing creative outlets.

Avoid Engaging in Power Struggles

Understand that individuals with BPD may experience intense emotional reactions. Instead of engaging in power struggles or arguments, strive to maintain a calm and non-confrontational approach. Validate their feelings while redirecting the conversation towards finding solutions.

Promote Social Support

Encourage the individual to connect with support groups or online communities where they can interact with others who share similar experiences. Social support can provide a sense of belonging, understanding, and shared coping strategies.

Be Patient and Understanding

Healing and progress take time. Be patient with the individual as they navigate the challenges of BPD. Offer understanding during difficult moments and celebrate their accomplishments, no matter how small.

Seek Support for Yourself

Supporting someone with BPD can be challenging, and it is crucial to seek support for yourself as well. Reach out to friends, family, or a support group to share your experiences, seek guidance, and ensure your own well-being.

Remember, supporting someone with BPD requires a balance of compassion, self-care, and professional guidance. Each individual's journey is unique, and it is important to approach their experiences with empathy and understanding. By being a source of support, you can make a significant difference in their lives and contribute to their overall well-being.

Related: How to Deal with Psychosis? 5 Ways to Face It 


Borderline Personality Disorder is a complex mental health condition that impacts individuals and their relationships. By understanding the symptoms and recognizing the signs of BPD, we can provide the necessary support and seek professional help. If you or someone you care about is experiencing symptoms of BPD, don't hesitate to reach out to Sharon Dunas, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Los Angeles, for counseling services. Together, we can navigate the challenges posed by BPD and work towards a path of healing and stability.

Remember, seeking professional help is a sign of strength and a crucial step towards managing Borderline Personality Disorder. Whether you are personally affected or supporting a loved one, know that there is support available. At Sharon Dunas, LMFT, we are dedicated to providing compassionate and personalized counseling services to individuals with BPD. Our goal is to help you navigate the complexities of this condition, develop healthy coping mechanisms, and improve overall well-being.

If you have any questions or would like to schedule a session, please don't hesitate to contact us at (310) 207-3505 or [email protected]. Our team of professionals is here to listen, guide, and support you on your journey to healing and living a fulfilling life.

Remember, you are not alone. Reach out today and take the first step towards a brighter and more empowered future.

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