BPD 6 Facts About Borderline Personality Disorder By Erin Johnston, LCSW Erin Johnston, LCSW Erin Johnston, LCSW is a therapist, counselor, coach, and mediator with a private practice in Chicago, Illinois. Learn about our editorial process Updated on August 29, 2021 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Daniel B. Block, MD Medically reviewed by Daniel B. Block, MD LinkedIn Twitter Daniel B. Block, MD, is an award-winning, board-certified psychiatrist who operates a private practice in Pennsylvania. Learn about our Medical Review Board Fact checked Verywell Mind content is rigorously reviewed by a team of qualified and experienced fact checkers. Fact checkers review articles for factual accuracy, relevance, and timeliness. We rely on the most current and reputable sources, which are cited in the text and listed at the bottom of each article. Content is fact checked after it has been edited and before publication. Learn more. by Aaron Johnson Fact checked by Aaron Johnson Aaron Johnson is a fact checker and expert on qualitative research design and methodology. Learn about our editorial process Print Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental illness that is commonly misunderstood by the general population and even some healthcare professionals. It's also a disorder that has the potential to negatively impact the lives of others. Because of these two issues, there are many misconceptions about BPD that exist. If you or someone you know has BPD, it's important to understand the truth about the illness in order to begin recovery. Here we take a look at six facts behind common misconceptions about BPD. Borderline Personality Disorder Is Treatable Hinterhaus Productions / Getty Images Contrary to what some might believe, BPD is treatable. If you think you have BPD, don't let this misconception scare you away from therapy or make you feel helpless. Having a diagnosis does not mean that you will forever experience the symptoms of BPD. Hard work and effective treatment, such as psychotherapy, can greatly reduce the severity of BPD symptoms and may help you live a normal life. Even without treatment, the symptoms of the disorder will ebb and flow over time; some people with BPD are able to function at a higher level than others, so recovery is different for each person. Not All People With BPD Are Victims of Childhood Abuse Too often, well-meaning people who don't understand BPD believe it is caused by childhood abuse. This misconception can change the way they interact with people who have BPD. While some people who have BPD have experienced abuse, the experience is not true for all. There is currently no known cause of BPD. The condition is generally believed by experts to be a result of a combination of biological and environmental factors, rather than linked to any one cause. Children and Adolescents Can Be Diagnosed With BPD Children and adolescents can be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. However, due to the generally accepted belief that personality is still forming throughout adolescence, diagnosing kids or teens with BPD has been controversial. The Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) lays out clear standards for a diagnosis for BPD. Caution must be used when giving any diagnosis, and this can be especially true for BPD as the symptoms can often mimic typical adolescent behavior. A professional therapist with experience with BPD can help distinguish the difference. Early diagnosis can be helpful in ensuring that an individual gets the intervention needed to begin recovery. BPD and Bipolar Disorder Are Different Disorders BPD and bipolar disorder are completely different disorders. Although the symptoms of bipolar and BPD may appear somewhat similar, they are two very distinct illnesses. Because even healthcare providers lack knowledge about BPD, people with BPD are often misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder, adding to the confusion. It is also important to note that medications used to treat bipolar disorder often do not work for people with BPD, so a therapist with a background in BPD is essential to get an appropriate diagnosis and treatment plan. BPD Is Not Only Found in Women While the previous school of thought was that women are more commonly diagnosed with BPD than men, more recent research has shown that the rates are comparable. But how someone shows signs of BPD can differ. While women tend to exhibit symptoms like mood swings and feelings of emptiness, men tend towards behavioral impulsivity. If You Know One Person With BPD, You Don't Know Them All Every person is unique, and having BPD doesn't change that. According to the DSM-5, the standard for mental health care, certain criteria must be met for a BPD diagnosis. The criterium includes impairment in personality functioning and in interpersonal relationships. The way these impairments show themselves is different in every individual. In addition, not all people with BPD experience specific symptoms in the same way. One person's difficulty with relationships may be different from yours. Each person experiences BPD in very different ways. 6 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. Ghaemi SN, Dalley S. The bipolar spectrum: Conceptions and misconceptions. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. 2014;48(4):314-324. doi:10.1177/0004867413504830 Biskin RS, Paris J. Management of borderline personality disorder. CMAJ. 2012;184(17):1897-902. doi:10.1503/cmaj.112055 Aldinger F, Schulze TG. Environmental factors, life events, and trauma in the course of bipolar disorder. Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences. 2016;71(1):6-17. doi:10.1111/pcn.12433 Ritschel LA, Kilpela LS. Borderline personality disorder. In: Cautin RL, Lilienfeld SO, eds. The Encyclopedia of Clinical Psychology. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.; 2014:1-6. doi:10.1002/9781118625392.wbecp478 Ruggero CJ, Zimmerman M, Chelminski I, Young D. Borderline personality disorder and the misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder. J Psychiatr Res. 2010;44(6):405-8. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2009.09.011 Shim IH, Woo YS, Bahk W-M. Prevalence rates and clinical implications of bipolar disorder “with mixed features” as defined by DSM-5. Journal of Affective Disorders. 2015;173(1):120-125. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2014.10.061 By Erin Johnston, LCSW Erin Johnston, LCSW is a therapist, counselor, coach, and mediator with a private practice in Chicago, Illinois. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist for BPD Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.