Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental illness characterized by pervasive instability in moods, interpersonal relationships, self-image, and behavior. This instability often disrupts family and work life, long-term planning, and the individual's sense of identity.

Originally thought to be at the "borderline" of psychosis, people with BPD suffer from emotion regulation. While less well known than schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, BPD is more common, affecting 2 percent of adults, mostly young women. There is a high rate of self-injury without suicide intent, as well as a significant rate of suicide attempts and completed suicide in severe cases. Patients often need extensive mental health services, and account for 20 percent of psychiatric hospitalizations. Yet, with help, many improve over time and are eventually able to lead productive lives.

Borderline Personality Disorder. Last reviewed 12/31/1969
  • National Institute of Mental Health
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Revised.
  • Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association, 2000.
  • US Department of Health and Human Services
  • Journal of Personality Disorders
  • Psychiatric Clinics of North America
  • Comprehensive Psychiatry
  • Harvard Review of Psychiatry
  • Cerebrum, The Dana Forum on Brain Science
  • Psychological Bulletin
  • Science