What are the Causes of Borderline Personality Disorder?

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To a common stranger or someone unfamiliar with its symptoms, mental illnesses can be viewed as acting out or wanting attention. For the families of a person suffering from a mental illness it could feel like a hostage situation. One of the trickiest mental illnesses to diagnosis is borderline personality disorder (BPD) because the symptoms of this illness is similar to those of Bi-Polar Disorder, a condition which creates severe mood swings in an individual. BPD is different. This mental illness is an emotional disorder causing emotional instability, which leads to stress and other problems in the life of an individual (Mayo Clinic 2010).

I have a wonderful friend, who is a great mother to her two children and does everything possible to shower them with affection. Unfortunately, her oldest child began to severly act out because of my friend’s divorce from the children’s father, which was long and bitter. This child acted out severely, lied about people, threw temper tantrums, accused people of molestation and other horrid acts. My friend called me frantic and crying because she had no clue on how to handle her child.

Finally, she took her child to a psychologist and was told that the child was suffering from borderline personality disorder. The doctor advised that the stress from the divorce and constant rejection from the father caused the mental condition. While the diagnosis enabled my friend to address her child’s issues, the aftermath of strained relationships was apparent as many people opted to distance themselves from my friend and her child.


BPD has affected the lives of millions but there are millions more who are undiagnosed because they don’t understand what could be causing their symptoms. While the causes of Borderline Personality Disorder are not definitive, many mental health professionals believe there are triggers, predetermined reasons, and factors that can cause BPD:

Genetics. Many times a person who suffers from a mental illness has had someone in their family (mother, father, grandparent or sibling) who suffered or suffers from a mental illness. BPD is no exception. You can receive traits of a mental illness just like you can receive traits of cancer, sickle cell anemia, and other health related issues. If you know that your family has a history of mental illness, even moments of long-term sadness or irrational thinking, then there is a possibility that you or someone in your immediate family can suffer from a mental condition like BPD.

Environmental Factors. Yes, your environment can change your mental state. If you are the victim of violence, abuse, or substance abuse, then you may have a slightly higher chance of developing BPD. You can also develop BPD if you experienced an abrupt or sudden loss of a parent, loved one or caregiver. Therefore, watching and being actively involved in traumatic situations in your personal life can ultimately have a great impact on your mental well-being.

Brain Abnormalities. Your brain can have a condition where the proper amount of hormones is not released to and through the brain. Basically your brain is not receiving enough serotonins; therefore creating problems in regards to making rational decisions. The chances of experiencing BPD only increases if you experienced a tumor, brain trauma or even brain surgery.

Borderline personality disorder is NOT acting out. It is a severe mental illness which can lead to severe depression, substance abuse, anxiety, eating disorder, unplanned pregnancies, deviant sexual behavior and/or other detrimental behaviors. Your environment can impact your mental health, as well as having a family history of mental illness and there is a slight chance that a trauma to your brain can cause BPD. Either way it is important that if you are not feeling “normal” then you need to get help today!


Borderline personality disorder. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.com/health/borderline-personality-disorder/DS00442. Accessed August 18, 2010.