Common Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder in Young People

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Sometimes known as Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder can affect how a young person relates to others, as well as their behaviour, and how they manage their emotions. Individuals with this condition may present symptoms differently from person to person, meaning there is never one set behaviour pattern that everyone with this diagnosis will exhibit. Growing up is hard enough on its own, let alone with the additional difficulties BPD can bring.

There is research into the causation of this condition, including the relationship between BPD and childhood abuse, trauma, neglect, and a family history of mental health conditions. If you know a young person with BPD, or have been given a diagnosis yourself, you might want to speak to the team at Yes We Can Youth Clinics for further information and support. 

Generally, symptoms for BPD tend to fall into one of four categories: emotional instability, disturbed patterns of thinking, impulsive behaviour, and unstable relationships. Read on for more…

Impulsive Behaviour

Having an impulse isn’t simply a want that has gone awry. This may present as a physical need by the young person, where they feel compelled to complete an action. Those with BPD may be more likely to get into recurring patterns of self harm when dealing with negative emotions, as well as to exhibit promiscuous behaviour – for teenagers especially, going through puberty and being surrounded by their peers each day whilst dealing with impulsive urges can be extremely confusing, as well as incredibly hard. For some, addiction can also become a problem alongside impulsive behaviour and can lead to gambling, alcohol, or drug problems that must also be overcome alongside their condition – if untreated, the young person’s education, work or health can severely suffer. This can be a difficult cycle to break out of, especially without a happy home life and supportive parents.

Unstable Relationships

For the individual with BPD, relationships may be all or nothing. This is due to something known as ‘splitting’ where an individual will see things as either good or bad, with no in-between. This can lead to them questioning loved ones repeatedly about whether their relationship is secure – this can be intensified by the fact that romantic relationships in particular are something relatively new to young people. For those with BPD, it can be difficult to maintain healthy relationships due to these ways of thinking. 

Emotional Instability

The Borderline individual may have severe difficulty in managing and regulating their emotions. They may exhibit both positive and negative emotions in high intensity, meaning they can seem overly happy about something that, to the average young person, might be quite mundane. Likewise, they may get extremely upset or fly into a rage over something that seems trivial to others. It is also often common for these emotions to swing unpredictably. One minute the individual might be happy, the next upset. It can be difficult for others to know what mood the young person is likely to be in at any given moment – family members, teachers and friends may not know how to approach and handle this, which can be isolating for all parties involved.

Disturbed Thinking Patterns

A young person with BPD may often think untrue thoughts about themselves and others, including regarding their own worth. Hearing voices, hallucinations, and believing that people are out to get you are also sometimes seen during psychotic episodes.

Borderline Personality Disorder can be tricky to both diagnose and treat. While it may be difficult for the young individual experiencing the problems, it can also be potentially harmful to those around them. If you are ever concerned about the behaviours exhibited by your child or a young person you know, it is best to seek help from a medical professional immediately. The earlier on they are diagnosed, the earlier they can get the care they need.

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