Borderline Personality Disorder and PTSD

Borderline personality disorder and PTSD frequently go hand in hand

Borderline personality disorder and PTSD frequently go hand in hand. People with borderline personality disorder (also called BPD) experience difficulties managing their emotions, unstable relationships and problems controlling impulsive behaviors.

It is not surprising that BPD and PTSD often occur together, as BPD and PTSD share many of the same risk factors, such as childhood abuse.

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Borderline personality disorder (BPD) has received a growing amount of attention within the media. However, the disorder is often not presented accurately, and as a result, many people carry a misperception about the symptoms that make up this disorder. If you have BPD or know someone who does, knowing what symptoms are and are not part of the diagnosis can help you better understand what you or a loved one are going through.


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Many people with BPD have PTSD, and many people with PTSD also meet criteria for a diagnosis of BPD. Why do they frequently occur together? Despite the fact that many people have observed that these two disorders often occur together, there isn't much research on why .

However, mental health professionals have come up with some hypotheses. One major reason the two may often occur together is that both disorders share some of the same risk factors, such as difficulties managing emotions and the experience of a traumatic event. Learning where a disorder comes from is very important, as it can help you make sense of your symptoms.


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Having either BPD or PTSD is difficult enough, as each disorder can have a major negative impact on a person's life. Given this, it is not surprising that having both of the disorders can greatly disrupt a person's life. If you have both BPD and PTSD, you can benefit from knowing what other conditions (for example, substance use, depression, deliberate self-harm) you may be at higher risk for. Having this knowledge can help you take steps (for example, developing healthy coping skills) to reduce the likelihood of these other conditions developing.


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Many people with BPD often struggle with deliberate self-harm, or the direct destruction of parts of the body without a desire to end one's life. It has been found that people may use self-harm as a way of managing or expressing very intense and unpleasant emotional experiences.

It has also been found that people with PTSD may be more likely to engage in self-harm as well. This makes sense, as people with PTSD (regardless of whether or not you also have BPD) experience strong negative emotions, such as shame, guilt, anger, and fear. These emotions may be difficult to sit with, leading to unhealthy coping strategies, such as self-harm.


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Just as BPD and PTSD are associated with deliberate self-harm, these disorders also increase risk for a wide range of self-destructive behaviors, such as substance use, binge eating or restricting, and suicide. When emotions are very strong (such as what is often experienced by people with both PTSD and BPD), it might be more difficult to control your behavior. As a result, people are more likely to engage in behaviors that reduce distress in the short-term but have long-term negative consequences. In reducing these behaviors, it is important to identify what are self-destructive behaviors and what is driving these self-destructive behaviors.


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Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a cognitive-behavioral treatment that has been found to be very effective for treating symptoms of borderline personality disorder. DBT helps people better manage their emotions and relationships. Although DBT was originally developed as a treatment for BPD, many of the skills presented in DBT have also been found to be helpful for people with PTSD (as well as those who have both disorders).

You may not yet be familiar with DBT, but if you have BPD, PTSD, or both, it would be worthwhile to familiarize yourself with this treatment, as it may be a good option for you.