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

Signs and symptoms of borderline personality disorder may include:

  • Impulsive and risky behavior, such as risky driving, unsafe sex, gambling sprees or illegal drug use
  • Awareness of destructive behavior, including self-injury, but sometimes feeling unable to change it
  • Wide mood swings
  • Short but intense episodes of anxiety or depression
  • Inappropriate anger and antagonistic behavior, sometimes escalating into physical fights
  • Difficulty controlling emotions or impulses
  • Suicidal behavior
  • Feeling misunderstood, neglected, alone, empty or hopeless
  • Fear of being alone
  • Feelings of self-hate and self-loathing

When you have borderline personality disorder, you often have an insecure sense of who you are. Your self-image, self-identity or sense of self often rapidly changes. You may view yourself as evil or bad, and sometimes you may feel as if you don't exist at all. An unstable self-image often leads to frequent changes in jobs, friendships, goals and values.

Your relationships are usually in turmoil. You may idealize someone one moment and then abruptly and dramatically shift to fury and hate over perceived slights or even minor misunderstandings. This is because people with borderline personality disorder often have difficulty accepting gray areas — things seem to be either black or white.

When to see a doctor

If you're aware that you have any of the signs or symptoms above, talk to your doctor or a mental health provider. Proper treatment can help you feel better about yourself and help you live a more stable, rewarding life.

If you notice signs or symptoms in a family member or friend, talk to that person about seeing a doctor or mental health provider. But you can't force someone to seek help. If the relationship causes you significant stress, you may find it helpful to see a therapist yourself.

Aug. 17, 2012