How to Reduce the Risk of Inherited Borderline Personality Disorder

Frustrated mother rubbing her temples while child plays in background
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If you have BPD, 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.

Is BPD Inherited?

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

Second, 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.

Lowering the Odds of Passing BPD to Children

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.

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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.

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.

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

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