Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Personality disorders are diagnosed based on:

  • Thorough interview with your doctor or mental health provider
  • Psychological evaluation
  • Complete clinical history
  • Signs and symptoms

To be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, you must meet criteria spelled out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). This manual is published and updated by the American Psychiatric Association and is used by mental health professionals to diagnose mental conditions and by insurance companies to reimburse for treatment.

For borderline personality disorder to be diagnosed, at least five of the following signs and symptoms must be present:

  • Intense fear of abandonment
  • Pattern of unstable relationships
  • Unstable self-image or sense of identity
  • Impulsive and self-destructive behaviors
  • Suicidal behavior or self-injury
  • Wide mood swings
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • Anger-related problems, such as frequently losing your temper or having physical fights
  • Periods of paranoia and loss of contact with reality

A diagnosis of borderline personality disorder is usually made in adults, not in children or teenagers. That's because what appear to be signs and symptoms of borderline personality disorder may go away as children get older and become more mature.

Aug. 17, 2012