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Borderline Personality Disorder and Emotional Dysregulation

Borderline Personality Disorder, or BPD, can be tough to live with and even tougher for a partner or family member. You’ve probably heard the phrase “walking on eggshells” and that may be what your life feels like if you’re dealing with someone with BPD. Those with BPD often struggle to control their emotions and although we all experience the same emotions, those with BPD experience a different intensity level upon feeling their emotions. One doctor describes those with BPD as similar to a victim of third degree burns. Both victims lack emotional skin and feel sheer agony with the slightest movement or touch, according to a recent blog post. For a person with BPD, the smallest slight might be an off the chart upset. There are four criteria that need to be met out of a total of nine to diagnose someone with BPD and determine how the person handles their emotions. The DSM-IV-TR lists these standard criteria to determine if someone you know or love may have BPD:

  • Do they make frantic efforts in order to avoid abandonment, whether real or perceived?
  • Do they experience intense or quickly changing mood swings such as anxiety and irritability?
  • Do they show inappropriate anger or are they unable to control their anger?
  • Do they have chronic feelings of emptiness?

People with BPD take way longer in order to calm down once triggered by emotions. Frustrating enough is that they also quickly forget their triggered emotion once they have calmed down again and cannot understand why you are mad afterwards. Your partner could also be extremely needy making you feel like you can’t leave them alone. Having a partner with BPD is frightening because their anger can also turn to violence although this isn’t true for all.

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