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The 4 Types of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) Explained


borderline personality disorder

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is one of the most misunderstood mental conditions in the US.  Some believe it is a mental disorder caused by genetic predisposition and chemical imbalances in the brain, while others think the affected person is simply difficult to handle. A few mental health professionals believe that BPD is nearly always brought on by childhood trauma, or PTSD.

The truth is, we are still learning and experimenting with medication and therapy treatments. The good news is the success rate for easing severe symptoms has improved and showing better results than ever before.

A borderline personality disorder is often confused with bipolar disorder. Most patients suffer from more than one condition. Both borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder include anxiety and depression disorders and may manifest in eating disorders, substance abuse, and other physical illnesses.

Further, the perception of the severity of the mental illness may be subjective, and the diagnosis is often based solely on information the patient provides the therapist. Severely depressed people are often mistrustful by nature and have difficulty communicating or admitting the symptoms of their condition. 

The 4 types of borderline personality disorder – symptoms, and treatment options

If you or a loved one suffers from BPD, it is helpful to understand and recognize the four different types of borderline personality disorder. 

After reading this article, you will know more about the symptoms, causes, and treatment options, as well as the similarities and differences of bipolar disorder. 

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is defined by its psychological impact on emotional regulation, impulse control, and interpersonal relationships. 

The difference between borderline personality disorder and bipolar is that BPD manifests with an outburst of anger triggered by an interaction with a person the borderline perceives as critical or judgmental. 

Bipolar disorder is a physical affliction where the person experiences a manic-depressive state with periods of emotional depression (with lack of energy and fatigue) and alternating manic episodes (feeling high with excessive energy and euphoria). The bipolar state can last from days to months. Unlike borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder manic episodes are generally triggered by seasonal weather changes, disrupted sleep patterns, or stressful events.

To be officially diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, an individual must have four of these characteristics: 

  • Feelings of sadness or guilt for even the smallest of things
  • A constant overwhelming need to control the lives of others
  • Experiencing significant swings in emotions (such as anger or fear)
  • Experiencing chaotic emotions that can include rage, jealousy, helplessness, and fear of abandonment.

Additionally, a sufferer will have impulse-based thoughts that are unreasonable and unrealistic. This negative perception causes intense distress and leads to detrimental behaviors and strained relationships. These thoughts and actions usually stem from deep-seated feelings of inadequacy, shame, fear, and helplessness. 

Most people who suffer from BPD exhibit behaviors that overlap all four of the subtypes. In most cases, the illness is predominantly one of the four types. 

The 4 Subtypes of Borderline Personality Disorder are defined as follows:

  • Impulsive – The impulsive BPD is prone to reckless and risk-taking behavior and often acts without regard for the consequences. This type demands to be the center of attention and often complains of chronic or recurring illness to gain attention and sympathy. 
  • Petulant – Characterized by childish and ill-tempered behavior. The petulant BPD exhibits uncontrollable anger and feeling of worthlessness and self-loathing. They possess an intense need to control and manipulate others, and their volatile mood swings and rage can lead to violence and conflict in their relationships.
  • Discouraged – These traits are overly dependent on others, low self-esteem, hopelessness, depression, and anger. The discouraged borderline personality is susceptible to substance abuse. They may have an intense fear of rejection, anxiety, vulnerability, and weakness.
  • Self-Destructive – This BPD is prone to be overly sensitive to perceived criticism. They cannot empathize with others and lash out in hostility when they feel threatened. The self-hatred and bitterness may be so severe and deep-seated that they tend to react irrationally and push away the people who care about them the most. The self-destructive type is impulsive, moody, and prone to risky behavior and self-harm.


Borderline Personality Disorder treatment combines psychotherapy and medication. The goal is to help the client recognize and manage their debilitating emotions. Effective medications such as antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs are the most prescribed for BDP. These medications are an effective tool to control mood swings and behaviors out of the patients’ control. 

A borderline personality disorder is a serious condition that needs to be treated by professional therapists. It often goes untreated for long periods. Family members are often afraid to seek help, as they fear the consequences and possible outbreak of anger if they suggest counseling or drug therapy. 

When left untreated, the disorder can worsen very quickly, and the person’s quality of life can suffer. Because Borderline Personality Disorder has so many potential symptoms and complications, it is imperative to identify them when they first occur.

If you suspect that someone close to you may be displaying these symptoms, do not hesitate to make an appointment with a physician. The doctor will perform diagnostic tests and determine if the patient has a borderline personality disorder.

Your doctor will also be able to offer helpful information and referral options for treatment. If you are diligent about seeking treatment, you can get your loved one the help needed to gain control over their life. It is possible to regain the ability to love yourself and live as independently as possible.


Medications will not cure borderline personality disorder, but they can effectively manage the symptoms, including mood swings, impulsivity, and obsessive-compulsive behavior

Common medications used to treat mood swings are sedatives like Valium and Ativan. Other common medications to treat the symptoms of BPD include antidepressants and mood stabilizers.

Antipsychotic drugs like Ritalin, Concerta, and Temoxazole can also be helpful to treat borderline personality disorder symptoms. 

However, all these medications carry risks and possible complications. You will have to work closely with your doctor to find the best course of drug therapy.

Behavioral Therapy

A very successful treatment approach for borderline personality disorder is called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This treatment approach focuses on changing how a person thinks and how they respond to situations. CBT is sometimes combined with medications to treat people who suffer from BPD. Some doctors will use antidepressant medications alongside therapy to treat people with a borderline personality disorder. 

People who suffer from BPD tend to experience more severe emotional symptoms than those with other personality disorders. Because of this, it can be more complicated to treat co-occurring conditions when they are part of borderline personality disorder. Although some people with borderline personality disorder have enjoyed successful treatment for co-occurring conditions. 

The best way to treat borderline personality disorder is with medications to treat the symptoms and not the disorder.

If you choose to use medication to control your symptoms, make sure that you select FDA-approved drugs. Some prescription medications can cause your symptoms to get worse rather than better, however, medications remain one of the most effective treatment options available for people diagnosed with a borderline personality disorder.

Call  Riverview CMHC today.  Offices in Stuart and Port St. Lucie FLA – Contact Riverview CMHC