I have stated many times that I am not a psychiatrist or medical doctor but I have been thinking a lot about how anxiety affects people with BPD and have come to the conclusion that BPD is deeply connected to anxiety. Why do I say this? Because I think nearly every symptom of BPD is engendered by a person’s anxiety.
Fear of being alone
When you think about being left alone as a child what do you remember? Panic, right? Panic strongly spurs a fight or flight reaction. It floods the body with adrenaline. People who are experiencing an anxiety attack know the symptoms all too well: the hammering heart, the sweaty palms, the inability to focus. For people with BPD, the symptoms go hand-in-hand with fear of abandonment and loss. Feeling stressed out certainly contributes to anxiety attacks. People with BPD are acutely susceptible to feeling stress and it only follows that they are also susceptible to anxiety. I myself suffered from anxiety for many years but it went undiagnosed until about 2000.
It is thought that as many as half of all people who have Borderline Personality Disorder also suffer from anxiety disorder. These feelings of sheer panic and terror can last anywhere from ten minutes to half an hour. If you have ever suffered a panic attack I don’t have to tell you how awful the feeling of being short of breath, shaking or trembling, the fear of dying and the often tingling feelings and numbness can be.When I had my first anxiety attack I thought I was having a heart attack.
An anxiety attack can happen suddenly and most people are completely caught off guard the first time it happens. There is often little to no warning the first time it happens. If you continue to suffer from anxiety attacks you will eventually learn to recognize the symptoms of the onset of an attack.
The best news about anxiety is that there are ways to address it. For many people practicing mindfulness meditation helps a great deal. Jon Kabat-Zinn, the “founder” of mindfulness meditation has helped many people throughout his career.
In addition to practicing mindfulness meditation some people find low doses of anti-depressant medication helpful.Be wary of taking benzodiazepines, however because they are extremely addictive. If you have BPD, the last thing you need on top of that is an addiction issue. If your psychiatrist prescribes a benzodiazepine, question him about it closely before taking it.
Treatment will depend on severity
Not everyone with BPD who has anxiety needs treatment for it. Some can manage their symptoms through meditation once per day, doing life affirmations and spending time with friends
Anxiety is a disorder, not a symptom
Though your anxiety may present itself as a symptom, it is in fact, a disorder. People who have anxiety are able to live complete, happy and healthy lives. The disorder simply needs to be managed, sometimes aggressively but always managed.
For many people struggling with mental health issues, anxiety is a disorder, not a symptom. Anxiety is specifically what needs to be cured, and then the person can live an emotionally healthy life. Though the reason people who have BPD develop anxiety is not very well-understood I see the two as a revolving door. I have anxiety, therefore I do not want you to separate from me. You separating from me causes me anxiety. It becomes self-perpetuating. As well, because BPD is all about shifting moods, that alone can cause great anxiety because the person does not know from one moment to the next how they will feel and how those feelings may or may not manifest themselves.
Fighting BPD Anxiety
In my opinion, the person suffering from BPD will never get their condition under control until they begin to address the underlying anxiety issues: what starts the ball rolling, what can I do to self-soothe and comfort myself, how can I learn to recognize it before it happens.