Rick SampsonDo you know someone characterized by pervasive mood change or instability? Do you have or know a relationship that changes like a chameleon minute to minute, hour to hour, or day by day? If so, you are among the millions of people who deal with Borderline Personality Disorder. About 1.6% of individuals experience this illness and there are tons of people who suffer from BPD but are misdiagnosed or un-diagnosed. A large percentage of individuals are often misdiagnosed as having bipolar disorder.

It is very difficult for families, friends, and loved ones to cope with the symptoms of BPD as much as it is difficult for the suffering individual to live with it. As a therapist, I have worked with some individuals labeled BPD and the mood lability is often the most difficult to survive. Symptoms often characteristic of the illness include but are not limited to:

  1. Self-injurious behavior
  2. extreme need for affirmation
  3. suicidal ideation (thoughts)
  4. aggressiveness
  5. poor thinking
  6. emotional instability
  7. switchable moods
  8. roller-coaster moods or behaviors
  9. difficulty with stable relationships (stormy relationships)
  10. extreme reactions (positive or negative)
  11. risky behavior
  12. rage or excessive anger
  13. sensitivity
  14. over-reactivity
  15. lability
  16. recklessness,
  17. difficulty with rejection
  18. skewed perceptions
  19. poor sense of self
  20. paranoia
  21. trouble regulating emotions, and
  22. irrationality

Most individuals who have not been diagnosed with this illness express complete shock with the stories explaining the emotional ups and downs of sufferers. BPD is one of those illnesses that has been very difficult for me to conceptualize. At the moment, we don’t know exactly what causes BPD, but studies have shown that genes and environment converge. Other studies suggest that social and cultural factors may increase the risk for the disorder, but further research is needed.

Every individual with the symptoms of BPD present differently, but the following video offers an overview of the illness:


It’s important that we understand this illness so that we can not only help loved one’s or associates regulate their emotions and protect themselves, but also protect ourselves from the emotional turmoil that can result from their symptoms. It’s also important that individuals dealing with such situations remember that it is not your fault, but it is the illness.


For information on Paranoid Personality Disorder, visit my site: AnchoredInKnowledge.

Stay informed.



National Institute of Mental Health. (2013). Borderline Personality Disorder. Retrieved September 1, 2013 from, http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/borderline-personality-disorder/index.shtml.

Photo Credit: Rick Sampson