Internalizing and Borderline Personality Disorder

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Internalizing is a symptom of several mental disorders, including borderline personality disorder (BPD). If you are internalizing, this means you are keeping your feelings or issues inside and do not share your concerns with others. 

If you frequently find yourself internalizing, you may show signs of low self-esteem, self-harm, and social isolation. Internalizing emotions can make you feel lonely and depressed, without anyone to relate to. For many, people who internalize for a long time can make the issues larger, causing you to burst into a tirade or contemplate suicidal actions. ​

What Is Internalizing in BPD?

Usually, when we think of someone with BPD, we may picture someone with intense emotions and reactions. He may be likely to get angry quickly or go into rages and often has very tumultuous personal relationships. However, many people with BPD do not act this way and instead internalize feelings. While they still meet the diagnostic criteria for BPD outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illnesses, 5th edition, they will handle and display their symptoms differently than others. 

Rather than throwing tantrums or yelling, you may internalize these urges, often hiding how much pain and sadness you are in. You may feel like you don't connect to the outside world or do not fit into the larger group. Those who internalize are often viewed as introverted, withdrawn and more stoic than others with BPD. 

You also may spend a lot of time trying to control your feelings or rationalizing your emotions. You may feel a lack of control which makes these symptoms feel even worse. Like others with BPD, you may feel confident about yourself one day and feel incompetent the next. This can worsen because you feel you can not share your insecurities with friends or loved ones. 

Recovering From Internalization

While BPD can be a debilitating mental disorder, it does have a good prognosis if you undergo treatment. It is possible to control your habit of internalization and manage your BPD symptoms in a healthier way.

BPD is often treated with psychotherapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy are two common forms of psychotherapy used to successfully treat internalizing emotions and BPD.

In therapy, you will learn how to stay in the moment and will begin to challenge your thoughts of yourself and others. You will learn coping skills to help you manage intense feelings and urges, improve relationships and prevent impulsive or destructive behaviors.

While you go to therapy, your doctor may also recommend medications to help treat your symptoms. While no medication has been approved to date to treat BPD, some physicians opt to prescribe medication to help control anxiety, depression or suicidal thoughts.

If you or someone you know has BPD and is struggling with symptoms and internalizing emotions, it's important to see a therapist specializing in BPD. By outlining concerns, common triggers and learning new coping mechanisms, your internalization and other symptoms of BPD can be better managed. This can help improve your relationships with others as well as heal your view of yourself.

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Article Sources

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  • "Borderline Personality Disorder". Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illnesses, 5th Edition. American Psychiatric Association, 2013. 
  • Eaton, NR., Krueger, RF., Keyes, KM, et al. "Borderline Personality Disorder Co-Morbidity: Relationship to Internalizing/Externalizing Structure of Common Mental Disorders". Psychological Medicine, 2011, 1041-1050.