Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD) is a type of personality disorder sometimes referred to as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), but both mean the same thing.
Those diagnosed with Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder /Borderline Personality Disorder Personality are among the most stigmatized of all major mental illnesses due to societal prejudices. This is mainly because of the way it is depicted negatively. Usually, those diagnosed with it are portrayed as dangerous. This causes people to fear them, believing they are prone to violent episodes.
They are also depicted as irresponsible, lazy, and self-indulgent and could get over it if they stopped wallowing. But on the other hand, others believe they are childlike and need the same assistance as a child, and are incapable of making their own decisions and choices. These, on top of the illness, make them feel even worse.
Background of the term Borderline Personality Disorder.
It was used in the past because doctors thought you could be on the borderline between psychosis and other mental health problems with negative emotions. This means they were really not clear. Therefore, due to this, healthcare professionals now prefer calling it Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD), as it is a clearer description. It is no wonder that even today, among healthcare professionals, EUPD is frequently misunderstood and misdiagnosed.
To be diagnosed with EUPD / BPD, your Dr will ask if you have experienced and have been significantly impacted by at least five of the most common symptoms and whether they have lasted for a long time.
Common symptoms of Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD/ BPD)
Fear of being abandoned – worrying about people leaving you and doing
anything to stop it from happening.
Having very intense emotions –usually lasting from hours to days- can change quickly. e.g., feeling very happy and confident in the morning and then feeling low and sad in the afternoon.
Self-identity – not having a solid sense of who you are, almost as though you are different people, e.g., who you feel you are can change depending on who you’re with.
Relationships – if you find it difficult to make and keep stable relationships.
Impulsivity -if you do things that could harm you without forethought, e.g., binge
eating, using drugs, or driving dangerously.
Suicidal thoughts -if you experience suicidal thoughts or self-harming behavior.
Loneliness – if you feel empty and lonely often, even when you have company.
Anger – if you quickly get outraged and struggle to control it.
Stress – this is a huge one because when stressed, you may sometimes feel paranoid (suspicious) and hallucinate (seeing or hearing things others don’t).
Also, when very stressed, you may feel numbness and unable to remember things correctly after they’ve happened.
Being diagnosed with an emotionally unstable personality disorder or borderline personality disorder DOESN’T NOT MEAN you have a lousy or lazy personality. However, it is understandable that you may feel that you’re being told who you are is wrong.
What causes Emotionally unstable personality disorder/BPD?
Although there’s no apparent reason, we know more women are diagnosed than men – this could be because men are less likely to seek support.
Research shows that EUPD/BPD is caused by a combination of factors below:
- Difficult experiences during childhood and teenage (traumatic experiences, e.g., sexual or physical abuse, being abandoned)
- Family instability (living with an alcoholic parent or primary caregiver or one who struggles with mental health problems)
- Neglect during childhood and teenage (losing a parent, chronic fear, distress)
- Genetic factors and personality in general (it’s hereditary)
Having difficult childhood experiences might cause you to develop certain beliefs about how people think and relationships work. Because of that, you acquire specific strategies for coping, which may not be helpful in adult life.
How to get Assessed and Diagnosed
If you are experiencing or have experienced some of the above symptoms and suspect you may meet the criteria, make an appointment with your GP and ask to be referred to your local community mental health team (CMHT). Only a mental health professional, e.g., a psychiatrist, can diagnose you – NOT your GP.
EUPD / BPD can be a broad diagnosis and includes many people with different experiences. If you have been diagnosed with it, some of your feelings or behaviors may understandably be so difficult to manage. They may become a barrier to living your life as you’d like to. These feelings, especially anger and sadness, may last for longer. Treatment can help you understand the patterns of your thoughts and behavior and work out which are helpful to you and those that aren’t. A lot of stress can make symptoms worse. Talking therapies, especially Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), have been effective.