Borderline personality disorder is characterized by instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image and moods, as well as an impairing sense of social impulsivity and fear of abandonment. It affects both adolescents and young adults, and it is diagnosed predominantly in girls.


  • Severely distorted or persistently unstable sense of self
  • Chronic feelings of worthlessness, anger, emptiness, or hopelessness
  • Frequent mood swings and difficulty controlling emotions, especially anger
  • Contradictory emotions over short spans of time, also known as a “black and white” thinking style
  • Brief, intense periods of anxiety or depression
  • Fear of being abandoned or periods of paranoid thinking, resulting in frantic efforts to avoid either real or imagined abandonment
  • Unstable relationships that veer quickly from intense idealization of or attachment to others to intense revulsion or criticism
  • Impulsive behavior such as risky driving, unsafe sex, or alcohol and substance abuse
  • Self-injury and suicidal behavior


The first treatment for borderline personality disorder is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and several specialized forms of CBT have been developed to help people with this disorder, including dialectical behavioral therapy.

Medications cannot treat borderline personality disorder itself but are often used to reduce specific symptoms. Hospitalization may be required for more intense treatment of adolescents or young adults who are at risk of self-injury or suicidal behaviors.

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