How do you know if you or someone you love may have BPD?

Individuals with BPD may struggle with these symptoms:


  • Unstable self-identity, inconsistent sense of self, poor self-image & low self-worth.
  • Their identity, values and behaviour can change drastically depending on their mood and who they are around.
  • They can feel like they are drifting and lost in their own lives (painful incoherence).


  • Feel empty and do not feel connected to others.
  • Feelings such as I can’t cope, it’s too much, I don’t understand, it’s my fault, & I hate myself.
  • Profound feeling of sadness, self-doubt, regret (especially after doing something impulsive) and discontent.

Emotional instability

  • Immediate and drastic mood swings and emotional sensitivity & instability, including intense but short-lived bouts of happiness, sadness, fear, anxiety, panic, anger, and rage (similar to bi-polar disorder, but called “affective lability”).
  • Triggers are often from interpersonal interactions (ex. feeling rejected or abandoned).

Self-harm & suicide

  • Recurrent suicidal thoughts or behavior (may require hospitalization because it is persistent).
  • Non-suicidal self-injury such as cutting (very specific to BPD), burning with a cigarette, and substance abuse (sometimes resulting in overdose) can bring relief from intense emotional pain.
  • The onset of self-harm is usually in early adolescence.

Psychotic/Paranoid/Dissociative states

  • Stress-induced, temporary paranoid thoughts, delusions, and dissociative states in which the mind or psyche “shuts off” painful thoughts or feelings making them feel numb.
  • They may believe that people are out to get them and even disconnect from reality (derealization and depersonalization) for short periods of time or hear voices (similar to someone with schizophrenia and psychosis). They often don’t trust other people because of this.


  • Intense feelings of anger, antagonism, irritation, & disappointment in others leading to verbal abuse, yelling at others, or physical altercations.


  • Impulsive, reckless, and self-harming behaviours such as problematic use of substances, overeating, over-spending, reckless driving, gambling, high-risk sexual behaviours, violent acts, and suicide.


  • Unstable relationships. Disturbances in perception and cognitive processes lead to black and white thinking to extremes where there is no grey area or middle ground (ex. somebody is either all good or all bad and the perception can flip very quickly and easily). Flip between over-involvement and dismissal (avoidance).
  • Intense fear of rejection (abandonment).

Emotional blindness

  • Alexithymia, also called emotional blindness, is highly prevalent in individuals with BPD, thus they often have trouble recognizing, expressing, and describing their own emotions.
  • People with BPD may have difficulty perceiving facial emotions and taking the perspective of others, which may lead to misinterpreted social signals and thus contribute to excessive emotional intensity and tension in social situations.

* If you (or your loved-one) is experiencing several of these symptoms and it is affecting the quality of life or ability to function, we highly recommend a visit to your (their) family doctor to discuss and evaluate your (their) mental health.