If you have a pattern of difficult relationships or personality traits that seem common to borderline personality disorder, call your doctor. After an initial appointment, your doctor may refer you to a mental health provider, such as a psychiatrist.
Use the information below to prepare for your appointment and learn what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Write down any symptoms you or people close to you have noticed, and for how long.
- Write down key personal information, including traumatic events in your past and any current, major stressors.
- Make a list of your medical information, including other physical or mental health conditions and the names and amounts of medications or supplements you take.
- Take a family member or friend along, if possible. Someone who has known you for a long time may be able to share important information with the doctor or mental health professional, with your permission.
- Write down the questions you want to ask your doctor so that you can make the most of your appointment.
For symptoms common to borderline personality disorder, basic questions to ask your doctor or a mental health provider include:
- What is likely causing my symptoms or condition?
- Are there any other possible causes for my symptoms or condition?
- What treatments are most likely to be effective for me?
- How much can I expect my symptoms to improve with treatment?
- How frequently will I need therapy sessions and for how long?
- Are there medications that can help?
- What are the possible side effects of the medication you may prescribe?
- Do I need to take any precautions or follow any restrictions?
- I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
- How can my family members help me in my treatment?
- Do you have any printed material that I can take home? What websites do you recommend?
Don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment if you don't understand something.
What to expect from your doctor
A doctor or mental health provider is likely to ask you a number of questions to aid in diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. Possible questions include:
- What are your symptoms?
- When did you first notice these symptoms?
- How are these symptoms affecting your life, including your personal relationships and work?
- How often during the course of a normal day do you experience a mood swing?
- How often have you felt betrayed, victimized or abandoned? Why do you think that happened?
- How well do you manage anger?
- How well do you manage being alone?
- Do you get bored easily?
- How would you describe your sense of self-worth?
- Have you ever felt you were bad, or even evil?
- Have you had any problems with self-destructive or risky behavior?
- Have you ever thought of or tried to harm yourself or attempted suicide?
- Do you use alcohol or illegal drugs or abuse prescription drugs? How often?
- How would you describe your childhood, including your relationship with your parents?
- Were you physically abused or neglected as a child?
- Have any of your close relatives been diagnosed with a mental health problem, including a personality disorder?
- Have you been treated for any other mental health problems? If yes, what diagnoses were made, and what treatments were most effective?
- Are you currently being treated for any other medical conditions?
In the meantime, if you have suicidal thoughts
If you have fantasies about hurting yourself or have other suicidal thoughts, get help right away by taking one of these actions:
Aug. 17, 2012
- Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
- Call a suicide hotline number — in the United States, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) to reach a trained counselor. Use that same number and press 1 to reach the Veterans Crisis Line.
- Call your mental health specialist, doctor or other health care provider.
- Reach out to a loved one, close friend, trusted peer or co-worker.
- Contact someone from your faith community.
- Borderline personality disorder. National Institute of Mental Health. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/borderline-personality-disorder/complete-index.shtml. Accessed July 16, 2012.
- Personality disorders. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV-TR. 4th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2000. http://www.psychiatryonline.com. Accessed July 17, 2012.
- Hales RE, et al. The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Psychiatry. 5th ed. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Publishing; 2008. http://www.psychiatryonline.com/resourceToc.aspx?resourceID=5. Accessed July 17, 2012.
- Silk KR. Borderline personality disorder: Epidemiology, clinical features, diagnosis, and differential diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed July 17, 2012.
- Silk KR. Borderline personality disorder: Treatment and prognosis. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed July 17, 2012.
- Gunderson JG. Borderline personality disorder. New England Journal of Medicine. 2011;364:2037.
- Leichsenring F, et al. Borderline personality disorder. The Lancet. 2011;377:74.
- Alarcon RD (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. July 31, 2012.