Borderline personality disorder is a disturbance of certain brain functions that causes four groups or domains of behavioral disturbances:
- poorly regulated and excessive emotional responses;
- harmful impulsive actions;
- distorted perceptions and impaired reasoning; and
- markedly disturbed relationships.
The symptoms of borderline disorder were first described in the medical literature over 3000 years ago. Because of its high prevalence in the general population (6%) and the severity of its symptoms (e.g., cutting, inappropriate anger outbursts and other emotional dyscontrol, consistent negative perceptions of other people’s behaviors and difficulty in establishing normal, balanced relationships), the disorder has gained increasing visibility over the past four decades. The full spectrum of symptoms of borderline disorder typically first appear in the early teenage years and into the twenties. Although some children with significant behavioral disturbances may develop readily diagnosable borderline disorder as they get older, it is very difficult to make the diagnosis in children.
After its onset, episodes of symptoms usually increase in frequency and severity. Remissions, relapses, but overall significant improvement with treatment is the most common course of the illness.8 Borderline disorder appears to be caused by the interaction of biological (genetic) and environmental risk factors, such as poor parental nurturing, and early and sustained emotional, physical or sexual abuse.
Physical disorders, such as migraine headaches, and other mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety, panic and substance abuse disorders and ADHD, occur much more often in people with borderline disorder than they do in the general population.