FAQ’s for Families

FAQ’s Family

What is a personality disorder?

Borderline personality disorder is a long-term pattern of inner experience and behavior that affects cognition, relationships, or impulse control in such a way as to cause impairment in daily functioning. They are not social flaws, but are a combination of biological and psychosocial maladaptions.

 How common is BPD?

BPD occurs in about 2% of the overall population.

Why is it called borderline?

In 1938, the American psychoanalyst Adolph Stern first described most of the symptoms that are now considered as diagnostic criteria of borderline disorder. In the 1960s, it was determined there are three distinct personality organizations: psychotic, neurotic and “borderline personality.” Borderline means we walk the line, or border, between psychosis and neurosis.

What is meant by Axis II

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) organizes psychopathology using a “multiaxial” system, and describes the axes as different domains of information for use in clinical work. Axis II includes personality disorders, developmental disorders, and learning disabilities. It is more generally is used to describe maladaptive aspects of personality, and defense mechanisms.

 What is meant by Cluster B?

In the DSM Cluster B personality disorders are characterized by dramatic, overly emotional or unpredictable thinking or behavior. They include antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder.

My loved one has just been diagnosed with BPD, what should I do?

Learn as much as you can about the disorder. Knowledge is power and in our case knowledge also leads to understanding. Understanding how our BPD mind works will help reduce outbursts and other negative behaviors.

What are the treatment options for BPD?

The most common treatment option for BPD is a mix of psychotherapy and psychiatry. The most recommended form of psychotherapy is CBT and DBT therapy. Both address modification of behaviors. There is no single medication that is indicated for BPD. Typically, psychiatrists will prescribe medications that address specific concerns: depression, anxiety, psychosis, and/or sleep.

Is self-harm normal?

Yes, it is one of the nine possible criteria for a BPD diagnosis.

What are the warning signs of suicide?


  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself.
  • Looking for means to kill oneself, such as searching online for methods or guns.
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Engaging in reckless behavior.
  • Sleeping too much or too little.
  • Preoccupation with death.
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye.
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
  • Talking about being a burden to others.
  • Making arrangements; setting one’s affairs in order.
  • Giving things away, such as prized possessions.


  • Acting anxious or agitated.
  • Withdrawn or feeling isolated.
  • Suddenly happier, calmer.
  • Loss of interest in things one cares about.
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.

If you think your loved one is having suicidal thoughts or actions please get them to a medical professional immediately.

 Is a normal life possible with BPD?

YES! With the proper treatment and a supportive family individuals can learn to manage the features of BPD and live normal, happy, and productive lives.





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