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Overview of borderline personality disorder

Māuiui tuakiri

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 isn't bad, and it isn't broken. But you might find it difficult to manage some of your emotions and thoughts. This might cause problems in your relationships at home, at school or at work.

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is one type of personality disorder. People with this type of personality disorder may feel intense emotions that are difficult to control. They may have an idea and act quickly without thinking about what might happen next. They often find it difficult to make and keep friendships. They might think unpleasant thoughts about themselves.

It's common for people with BPD to have thoughts about hurting themselves or even committing suicide. They're often scared that their loved ones are going to reject them.

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're not sure what causes BPD but we do know that people with BPD have often had difficult childhoods. It isn't the persons fault that they have BPD and they didn't cause it.

Diagnosing BPD

Trying to find out if someone has BPD is difficult. It may take a GP, 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 GP.


It's common for people with borderline personality disorder to have suicidal thoughts. If you're considering acting on suicidal thoughts and need help, phone the Suicide Crisis Helpline on 0508-TAUTOKO (0508‑828‑865) from midday to midnight any day, or phone Lifeline on 0800‑543‑354 (available 24/7). Or you can contact your local mental health crisis team:

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Page created May 2020.


Page reference: 503520

Review key: HIBPD-503517