Not all mental health disorders are treated like diseases. Some are patterns of experiences and behavior that differ from social norms. That is the case of borderline personality disorder, a personality type characterized by extreme shifts both in emotions and valuations of self-worth.
Borderline personality disorder has a host of different symptoms, but one issue often associated with it is anxiety. That anxiety can both control a person's life and be the result of the way they see themselves, and it's something that needs to be treated in order to help reduce the effects of borderline personality disorder.
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Anxiety is a Single Symptom
For many people struggling with mental health issues, anxiety is a disorder, not a symptom. Anxiety is specifically what needs to be cured, and then the person can live an emotionally healthy life.
With BPD, the personality disorder is the over-arching problem, and anxiety is simply a symptom of it. But that doesn't mean you can't reduce your anxiety using many of the same methods. My anxiety test is one of the best places to start.
How BPD Creates Anxiety
Borderline personality disorder is about mood shifts. People aren't usually simply "emotional." Rather, they tend to experience wild fluctuations in mood and emotions, and those shifts tend to feel extremely powerful.
One of the most notable aspects of BPD is that anxiety is often the "upper" emotion. BPD isn't like bipolar disorder, where a person switches back and forth between great emotions/mania and negative emotions/depression. Often the person switches between negative emotions and anxiety, where anxiety, with anxiety remaining almost always present.
Nearly 75% or more of those living with BPD also qualify for an anxiety disorder, so it's clear that anxiety is a serious problem with this condition.
What Causes BPD to Lead to Anxiety
Unfortunately, it's not entirely clear exactly why borderline personality disorder causes anxiety specifically. The answer may be in a person's genes. There are biological reasons that some people are more prone to these severe emotional shifts, and possibly the same genes make people more prone to anxiety as well.
BPD also tends to be "triggered." Meaning that not everyone with the gene experiences BPD, but some people - those that have experienced abuse, neglect, or other issues - seem to be more prone to getting it. Anxiety can have similar causes, so it's possible that they develop with each other rather than as a result of BPD itself. However, other possibilities include:
- Interpersonal Problems BPD is characterized by interpersonal problems and an inability to handle most personal relationships. Friendships are actually an essential part of normal functioning, and many people that struggle with these friendships may run the risk of developing anxiety.
- Self-Worth/Value - One of the symptoms of bipolar personality disorder is a lack of self-esteem or value. Confidence plays an important role in avoiding anxiety, so these emotions may contribute to further anxiety.
- Emotional Energy Emotions can also cause a high amount of energy and uncertainty. Anxiety is an emotion, and it's very possible that those with BPD channel that emotional energy into feeling anxious.
- BPD Behaviors BPD also creates behaviors that can contribute to the development of anxiety. Some of these, of course, are experiences. Some people with BPD engage in fighting and emotionally reckless behaviors that can cause fear. Others are much less noticeable. For example, those with BPD may develop eating disorders or alcoholism, or they may not exercise. All of those types of behaviors can lead to anxiety.
Very likely there are also issues going on at a chemical level. Anxiety is common in those with malfunctioning neurotransmitters, and it's very likely that deep within the mind there are issues that are leading to low levels of important neurotransmitters, either as a result of the disorder itself or because of the emotional swings. Neurotransmitters are effected by both biology and thoughts/feelings.
Fighting BPD Anxiety
Borderline type personality disorder absolutely requires treatment, and this treatment is often independent of any treatment for anxiety. One of the best is dialectical behavior therapy, which is a type of therapy based on cognitive behavioral therapy that has shown incredible success at reducing the effects of BPD.
But seeking help for your anxiety is important too. Strongly consider taking my free 7 minute anxiety test now. This test will show you what your symptoms say about you, and what you can do to fight it.
Lieb, Klaus, et al. Borderline personality disorder. The Lancet 364.9432 (2004): 453-461.
Comtois, Katherine Anne, et al. Relationship between borderline personality disorder and Axis I diagnosis in severity of depression and anxiety. The Journal of clinical psychiatry 60.11 (1999): 752.
Herpertz, Sabine C., et al. Evidence of abnormal amygdala functioning in borderline personality disorder: a functional MRI study. Biological psychiatry 50.4 (2001): 292-298.