How to Reduce the Risk of Inheriting BPD

Frustrated mother rubbing her temples while child plays in background
JGI/Jamie Grill/Blend Images/Getty Images

If you have borderline personality disorder (BPD) and also have kids, you may wonder, is BPD genetic? While BPD does have a strong genetic component, your children most likely will not get borderline personality disorder.

It's true that if you have BPD, your kids are at greater risk of having the condition themselves. But, there is also a good chance that they will not have it. And, there are things you can do to reduce their risk.

This article discusses whether BPD is genetic and the risk of your children also inheriting the condition. It also explores some of the steps you can take to minimize this risk.

Is BPD Genetic?

There is research showing that borderline personality disorder runs in families. This is likely due to a number of factors.

Some part of BPD is due to genetics. If these are your biological kids and they have inherited a certain combination of genes from you, they may be more at risk to develop BPD.

According to research, the heritability of BPD is estimated to be approximately 46%. The remaining risk varies depending on the individual and is connected to unique environmental factors.

But it is important to recognize that having a genetic susceptibility to BPD isn't a guarantee that someone will eventually develop the condition. Other studies that look at BPD in families, particularly in twins, have suggested that interactions between your genes and your environment also play an important role.  

Other Risk Factors

The types of environments that can put children at risk of developing BPD also run in families. For example, someone who is maltreated as a child is at greater risk to develop BPD. That person is also at greater risk of having difficulty parenting. It is hard to be an effective parent when you are struggling with BPD symptoms, and it does not help if you did not have good parenting models yourself.

There is nothing you can do about genetics. But if your kids live with you, there is a great deal you can do about environmental factors. And there is evidence that the environment has a very strong influence on whether or not people with the genes for BPD actually develop the disorder.


Genes are a risk factor for BPD, but the environment also plays an important role. This means that there are steps you can take that may minimize your risk or your children's risk of developing BPD.

How to Decrease the Risk of BPD

Because BPD is also influenced by factors other than genetics, there are things that you can do that may help lower the risk that you or your children will develop borderline personality disorder.

Get Treatment

The first thing that you can do is to get treatment for yourself. People who undergo an effective treatment for borderline personality disorder under the guidance of a mental health professional can improve significantly. Some people no longer meet the diagnostic criteria for BPD after they finish treatment.

Having fewer symptoms means having more resources for effective parenting. Your doctor or therapist can help figure out an effective treatment path for you.

Borderline Personality Disorder Discussion Guide

Get our printable guide to help you ask the right questions at your next doctor's appointment.

Mind Doc Guide

Evaluate Your Home Environment

Once you are in treatment, you can also express your concerns about your children to your care provider, and ask them for help. Your provider can help you to evaluate your home environment and whether your symptoms could be affecting your parenting skills.

Enroll in Skills Training

Your therapist may even be able to refer you to programs that help people build skills to be more effective parents. People with borderline personality disorder can be very effective and nurturing parents, but because the symptoms of BPD can be very intense, for many people this does take some work.

Treatment Options

BPD is typically treated with a combination of psychotherapy and medication. A number of different types of talk therapy have been shown to be helpful for treating this condition, including

Medications that may be prescribed to treat BPD include antidepressants, antipsychotics, anticonvulsants, and anti-anxiety medications. These may relieve symptoms of anxiety, depression, impulsivity, and paranoid thinking. 

Self-help strategies, such as developing new coping skills to regulate emotions and cope with distress, can also be beneficial if you have BPD.

A Word From Verywell

While BPD has a strong genetic component, that does not necessarily mean that you will develop the condition or pass it down to your children. Genetics may increase the risk, but there are steps you can take to manage your condition and reduce the impact that it has on your loved one.

Getting treatment is an important step that can help you cope with the symptoms of BPD, develop new coping skills, and change household patterns that might increase the risk of your children developing BPD.

If you or a loved one are struggling with [condition name], contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does BPD run in families?

    Having family members with BPD can increase your risk of developing the condition as well. This is due to shared genetic and environmental factors that play a role in causing BPD. 

  • How old are people when BPD first develops?

    The age of onset for BPD symptoms usually occurs during adolescence or early adulthood. Research suggests that people typically begin treatment for the condition around age 18.

4 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Gunderson JG, Zanarini MC, Choi-Kain LW, et al. Family study of borderline personality disorder and its sectors of psychopathology. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2011;68(7):753-762. doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2011.65

  2. Skoglund C, Tiger A, Rück C, et al. Familial risk and heritability of diagnosed borderline personality disorder: a register study of the Swedish population. Mol Psychiatry. 2021;26(3):999-1008. doi:10.1038/s41380-019-0442-0

  3. Amad A, Ramoz N, Thomas P, Jardri R, Gorwood P. Genetics of borderline personality disorder: systematic review and proposal of an integrative model. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2014;40:6-19. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2014.01.003

  4. Biskin RS. The lifetime course of borderline personality disorder. Can J Psychiatry. 2015;60(7):303-308. doi:10.1177/070674371506000702

Additional Reading

By Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault, PhD
 Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and associate professor of psychology at Eastern Connecticut State University.