Individuality makes life fascinating, and that goes for our personalities, too. No two humans share the same personality, enabling us to learn from others. Our personality determines how we engage with others, what motivates us, and how we respond to challenges. Some aspects are inherited through our genes, whilst our life experiences mould others.
Personality disorders such as borderline personality disorder (BPD) can take hold at any age, but it is typical for symptoms to first present in teenagers. If a young person lives with a personality disorder, it will affect their behaviour, thoughts, and feelings.
If left untreated, borderline personality disorder can be extremely debilitating. Yet, with support from a mental health professional and the right treatment, symptoms can be managed, and many people live a fulfilling life.
Find out more about how borderline personality disorder is treated at The Wave here.
What Is Borderline Personality Disorder?
Borderline personality disorder is a type of personality disorder and mental health condition that significantly affects how people progress through life and form relationships. People with BPD have a high chance of developing other mental health conditions such as substance abuse or depression due to the difficulty of maintaining stability and relationships.
Like every mental illness, symptoms of BPD vary from person to person; however, it is typical for people with borderline personality disorder to struggle with regulating their emotions. This can see them going from happy and euphoric to incredibly low and empty in a matter of hours.
Diagnosing BPD can be challenging, especially as no two cases are the same. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders V (DSM-V) describes it as “a pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and marked impulsivity.”
An agreed criterion was put together to guide mental health professionals in identifying and diagnosing cases of borderline personality disorder. This criterion includes:
- Real or imagined abandonment
- Engaging in intense, risky, or unstable relationships
- An unstable self-image or sense of self
- Engaging in impulsive behaviour such as unsafe sex or substance abuse
- Recurrent suicidal ideation
- Attempting suicide
- Engaging in self-harm
- Emotional instability and mood swings
- Chronic feelings of loneliness and emptiness
- Uncontrollable or unforeseen anger
- Intense paranoia or severe dissociative symptoms
- Impulsive behaviours that can cause harm
It is important to recognise that people living with borderline personality disorder may not experience all of the above symptoms. However, a diagnosis is usually only made if at least five of these behaviours or patterns of thinking are seen in a young person.
If you think a young person in your care might be living with borderline personality disorder, get in touch with us today. An early diagnosis gives the best chance of a full recovery.
What Causes Personality Disorders?
There is no one set cause of personality disorders. Instead, various factors contribute to a young person’s chances of developing one.
Some of these common risk factors include:
Research suggests that genetics play a role in the development of borderline personality disorder. Considering this, if a young person has a family history of BPD, the chance of them receiving a diagnosis may increase.
It is also believed that the risk of experiencing BPD increases if a close family member has another mental illness such as anxiety, depression, or bipolar.
BPD is often linked to early childhood trauma or traumatic events in childhood, as trauma can severely affect the brain. Trauma can include childhood sexual abuse, neglect, and witnessing substance use disorders.
Young people who experience trauma during childhood when their brain is still developing are prone to developing coping strategies that they sustain into their adult lives. Unfortunately, this has a significant impact on how they engage in relationships and manage their emotions.
Underlying Mental Health Conditions
Experiencing co-occurring mental health problems such as major depressive disorder and eating disorders or anxiety and bipolar disorder increases the chances of receiving a BPD diagnosis.
In recent years, brain development researchers have examined the connection between borderline personality disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Although some of the symptoms overlap, and both conditions are linked to experiences of trauma, it is generally concluded that they are two distinct conditions with a high rate of coexistence. You can also read more about related mental health conditions in our blog Bipolar vs Borderline Personality Disorder.
Holistic Treatment for BPD at The Wave
At The Wave, we understand that growing up presents challenges for everyone. Living with borderline personality disorder adds a number of complications and difficulties for young people. Our mission is to support adolescents through their most challenging days and guide them to a happier place in their lives.
With a holistic approach to treatment, we help our young people develop the skills and resilience they need to tackle their mental health conditions and harness effective emotional regulation. Furthermore, we take a multi-faceted approach to recovery, combining medical treatment with compassionate care and life-skills development. Not only does this arm our young people with a robust set of coping skills, but it helps build a solid foundation to step out into their recovery journey.
During treatment, there are seven main components that we focus on to ensure young people develop and grow throughout their time with us. These include:
- Destination future
- Global citizenship
We know that when young people and their families truly understand their condition, they are much better placed to manage it. As a result, we support the whole community and provide mental health education to help each person understand the core BPD symptoms and some effective ways of managing them.
In addition to providing a wealth of education surrounding BPD symptoms, we aim to help our young people reclaim control of their lives. By building confidence and enabling growth, those in our care witness a dramatic change in their day-to-day lives.
Quality Medical Care
Children often need a very specific environment, approach, and therapy techniques to help them manage their condition compared to adults living with BPD. Our team of child and adolescent mental health experts understand this, and they also understand the language and needs of children and their families.
Child safeguarding and early childhood trauma are two of our areas of expertise. Not only does this allow parents to feel confident and secure that their child is in the safest hands possible, but it reassures them that each young person’s safety, thoughts, and feelings will always be paramount.
We create person-specific treatment plans to reflect our young people’s hopes, fears, and needs. No one person is the same, so why should their treatment be?
The Wave Treatment Approaches
We use an effective combination of medical treatment and alternative therapies to create a rounded recovery programme for our young people. Our treatment modalities include:
Dialectical Behaviour Therapy
Each young person who undergoes a treatment programme at our centre experiences a substantial amount of talking therapy sessions during their time with us. One of those talking therapies is dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT). DBT is a strand of the more commonly known and highly approved cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT).
DBT is an effective treatment for borderline personality disorder as it encourages young people to work on mindfulness, connection, and self-awareness. These elements are critical in recovering from personality disorders and managing strong emotional reactions.
At The Wave, dialectical behaviour therapy occurs twice a week during group sessions, with every session lasting one and a half hours. We ask young people to work on additional assignments to complement their group work learning between these sessions. Our therapists also work with them one-on-one to support them in using the strategies they learn.
Through psychodynamic therapy, young people can learn to understand how they feel and why they experience certain emotions. This therapy method is concerned with the idea that if young people can identify their emotions and their causes, they will be able to manage them in a more empowered way.
Psychodynamic therapy includes talking and reflecting to establish healthier coping techniques. Working through aspects of unresolved fear, intense feelings, and destructive urges, young people can gain a perspective on their condition, giving them back control of their own lives.
Group Therapy for Personality Disorders
Group therapy is a component for all young people at The Wave. Group therapy provides a chance for each person to share, listen, offer support, gain acceptance, and reflect. The sense of community young people find during these sessions often propels them forward in their recovery journey.
No two sessions are the same. During group therapy, we cover a range of general psychotherapy topics. Some common themes include:
- Challenging unhelpful self-talk
- Taking control and care of the body
- Communication with others
- Relapse prevention
Sometimes we also look at more general life skills such as mindfulness, successful communication, and developing healthy relationships.
Medical Treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder
Our psychiatric team carefully assesses each young person’s condition upon their arrival at our centre. To ensure that treatment is appropriate and effective throughout their time with us, we continuously evaluate their condition. In some cases, medication can complement the other therapies we offer.
At present, there is currently no Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved medication specifically for BPD. However, some medicines may help ease related symptoms, such as impulsivity and emotional distress. Medication can also be used to treat symptoms of co-existing health conditions such as anxiety, depression, and psychosis.
Alternative Treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder
When treating mental health conditions, a multi-faceted approach is advised. As borderline personality disorder responds well to a combination of therapeutic approaches, we provide many activities to help heal the body and mind. Sessions such as meditation, gardening, cooking, and yoga are offered to nourish the bodies and souls of our young people.
At The Wave, we recognise the importance of creating a supportive and caring environment for our young people to grow from. We maintain stability and consistency by establishing a routine for those in our care, but we leave space for the flexibility that young people need. We also offer a range of activities to keep our young people engaged and motivated throughout their treatment process.
Reach Out To Us Today
If you or a family member live with borderline personality disorder and have questions about our treatment options, please feel free to contact us today. In doing so, you can speak with a member of our team and ask any questions you have about treating borderline personality disorder.
At The Wave, we know this journey well, and we are here to walk through it with you and your family.