Borderline Personality Disorder: Symptoms

Borderline personality disorder is a mental health disorder that impacts the way you think and feel about yourself and others, causing problems functioning in everyday life. It includes self-image issues, difficulty managing emotions and behavior, and a pattern of unstable relationships.

With borderline personality disorder, you have an intense fear of abandonment or instability, and you may have difficulty tolerating being alone. Yet inappropriate anger, impulsiveness and frequent mood swings may push others away, even though you want to have loving and lasting relationships.


Borderline personality disorder affects how you feel about yourself, how you relate to others and how you behave.

Signs and symptoms may include:

• An intense fear of abandonment, even going to extreme measures to avoid real or imagined separation or rejection

• A pattern of unstable intense relationships, such as idealizing someone one moment and then suddenly believing the person doesn’t care enough or is cruel

• Rapid changes in self-identity and self-image that include shifting goals and values, and seeing yourself as bad or as if you don’t exist at all

• Periods of stress-related paranoia and loss of contact with reality, lasting from a few minutes to a few hours

• Impulsive and risky behavior, such as gambling, reckless driving, unsafe sex, spending sprees, binge eating or drug abuse, or sabotaging success by suddenly quitting a good job or ending a positive relationship

• Suicidal threats or behavior or self-injury, often in response to fear of separation or rejection

• Wide mood swings lasting from a few hours to a few days, which can include intense happiness, irritability, shame or anxiety

• Ongoing feelings of emptiness

• Inappropriate, intense anger, such as frequently losing your temper, being sarcastic or bitter, or having physical fights


Borderline personality disorder can damage many areas of your life. It can negatively affect intimate relationships, jobs, school, social activities and self-image, resulting in:

• Repeated job changes or losses

• Not completing an education

• Multiple legal issues, such as jail time

• Conflict-filled relationships, marital stress or divorce

• Self-injury, such as cutting or burning, and frequent hospitalizations

• Involvement in abusive relationships

• Unplanned pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, motor vehicle accidents and physical fights due to impulsive and risky behavior

• Attempted or completed suicide

In addition, you may have other mental health disorders, such as:

• Depression

• Alcohol or other substance misuse

• Anxiety disorders

• Eating disorders

• Bipolar disorder

• Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

• Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

• Other personality disorders

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