When the topic of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) comes up, you’ll probably hear the conversation focusing on the issue of anger and rage. Indeed, people who suffer from BPD often struggle with explosive emotional flare-ups. Those episodes capture everyone’s attention.

Other symptoms of BPD such as self-harm, impulsive actions, and unstable relationships stand out as well. However, people with BPD also suffer greatly from profound anxiety. Some people with BPD describe their anxiety as excruciatingly painful and debilitating. Quite often their anxiety centers on deep fears of abandonment. They believe that others will inevitably leave them and, once that happens, they will be left totally unable to cope.

Those with BPD also experience panic attacks, worries, and fears that many other people do. However, those with BPD lack skills and resources for managing anxiety when it occurs. Therefore, everyday life can end up feeling like a continuously running nightmare.

If you have BPD, it’s important that you tell your therapist about any problems you have with anxiety. If you don’t, your therapist may fail to address your anxiety because other symptoms are so much more dramatic. Yet, anxiety is one of the most easily treated symptoms of BPD. And if you experience relief from anxiety, you may find yourself more able to increase your efforts and motivation for dealing with other issues.

Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) has been shown repeatedly to be highly effective in treating a wide range of fears, worries, and anxiety. Behavioral techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, abdominal breathing, and meditation give at least partial relief with enough practice. In addition, cognitive techniques help people manage their anxiety arousing thoughts by teaching new styles of thinking. CBT constitutes the major portion of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), the first approach shown to be effective for BPD.

The bottom line: If you suffer from BPD, consider working on your problems with anxiety early in treatment.