Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a complex mental disorder characterized by intense emotional responses, unstable relationships and a shifting sense of self. Individuals with BPD are more prone to develop other mental illnesses, such as:
- Mood disorders such as major depressive disorder
- Substance abuse
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD)
It is important to be aware that one condition affects the other’s manifestation, course, and treatment. Individuals with BPD are often misdiagnosed because of the way their co-occurring disorders share or hide BPD symptoms. Mental health professionals should be wary of this as a patient’s symptoms can only improve if BPD is also adequately addressed.
BPD & Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
Many people with BPD also experience episodes of depression. The symptoms of BPD and depression often overlap; they include:
- Non-lethal acts of self-harm
- Agitation and irritability
- Strong feelings of emptiness, loneliness and sadness
- Sleep and appetite disturbances
- Suicide ideation
As a result, most individuals present with and receive treatment for depressive symptoms until their clinician realizes that a more complicated matter is at hand: comorbid BPD. For those with BPD, depressive symptoms will only subside when the prompting event is removed or when proper BPD treatment is given.
BPD & Substance Abuse
Many individuals with BPD struggle with alcohol and drug abuse due to the substances’ ability to temporarily numb their intense emotional pain. Substance dependence problems should be addressed alongside appropriate BPD treatment, or else they may relapse or replace one unhealthy coping mechanism with another.
BPD & Anxiety
Studies have shown that almost 90% of people with BPD also suffer from anxiety and panic attacks, usually brought about by promoting events, such as rejection or separation from friends and family.
Anxiety is commonly treated with benzodiazepines, such as Xanax and Valium. However, due to their addictive nature, clinicians often refrain from prescribing them to individuals with BPD. Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) is the recognized gold standard treatment protocol for people who have been diagnosed with BPD and I am devoted to BPD recovery through the use of DBT.
BPD & PTSD
Since early childhood trauma is a risk factor for BPD, it is no surprise that BPD and PTSD often co-occur. Also, impulsive behavior tendencies and unstable relationships put people with BPD at a greater risk of experiencing a traumatic event. While some symptoms of PTSD and BPD, like constant mood swings and difficulty in emotion management, overlap, those with BPD often report earlier experiences of trauma than those only diagnosed with PTSD.
BPD & Narcissistic Personality Disorder
About a third of people diagnosed with BPD also have NPD. Hallmarks of NPD include:
- The constant need for admiration, special treatment and confirmation
- Lack of empathy for others
- Considering others as mere pawns to satisfy their needs
Individuals with BPD and NPD are often destructive in their relationships. A mixture of fear of rejection, intense emotions, lack of empathy and manipulation can make maintaining close relationships very challenging.
Identifying and treating a mental disorder co-occurring with BPD is key to achieving symptom remission. If you’re ready to learn new coping mechanisms and move forward with your BPD recovery journey, contact BPD No More and start working with Dee Chan today!