Print this topic

HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Overview of borderline personality disorder

Tirohanga whānui ki te māuiui tuakiri


It is common for people with borderline personality disorder to have suicidal thoughts. If you are considering acting on suicidal thoughts and need help, phone the Suicide Crisis Helpline 0508‑828‑865 (available 24/7), Lifeline 0800‑543‑354 or txt 4357 (available 24/7) or your local mental health crisis team:

A personality disorder is a type of mental health disorder.

To understand personality disorders, you have to understand what a personality is.

Everyone has a personality. This is what your thoughts are, how you relate to others, how you see yourself and how you act. People with a personality disorder may find it difficult to think and act the way other people do.

It's important to know that if you have a personality disorder, your personality is not bad, and it is not broken. But you might find it difficult to manage some of your emotions and thoughts. You may have an idea and act quickly without thinking about what might happen next. You might also think unpleasant thoughts about yourself.

This might cause problems in your friendships and relationships at home, school or work. If you have BPD, you might be scared that your loved ones are going to reject you.

BPD is different to bipolar disorder. BPD and bipolar disorder share some similar features. These include mood swings and doing things without considering the consequences. But they're very different mental health disorders.

With treatment, most people with BPD find that things improve for them. It may take a long time and quite a bit of effort. But as you learn more about BPD and ways to cope, things will get better.

Causes of BPD

We are not sure what causes BPD but we do know that people with BPD have often had difficult childhoods. It is not the persons fault that they have BPD, and they did not cause it.

Diagnosing BPD

Trying to find out if someone has BPD is difficult. It may take your general practice team, psychiatrist or psychologist many appointments to come to this diagnosis.

There are no specific tests to help diagnose BPD, but you can try this online test for BPD.

If you think you might have BPD, or if you're worried about your mental health, see your general practice team.

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

On the next page: Self-care for borderline personality disorder

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed May 2023.


Page reference: 503520

Review key: HIBPD-503517