Can You Prevent BPD From Developing?

National Recovery Month at OPI Living

As research and new information surfaces on disorders like borderline personality disorder (BPD), more can be understood about what causes these disorders, how to treat them, and if they can possibly be prevented. Our knowledge of what exactly BPD is has evolved tremendously in the last few decades.

Once thought of as a middle ground between other disorders, BPD is now recognized as a separate disorder with its own symptoms, causes, and treatments. BPD is characterized by trouble maintaining relationships and unstable moods and emotions. Usually diagnosed in early adulthood, BPD is thought to affect somewhere between 1.6 and 5.9 percent of the population, as published by Psych Central.

Causes of BPD

While researchers are not positive what precisely causes BPD, most believe that a combination of genetics and environment plays a role. A twin study published by Science Daily indicated genetics are likely involved in 42 percent of the cases of BPD with the other 58 percent being attributed to environmental factors. The study focused on identical twins that typically share a social environment, however. MRIs of people suffering from BPD also seem to indicate that certain parts of the brain are affected. The parts of the brain responsible for emotions and mood regulation, like the prefrontal cortex, amygdala, and many of the brain’s neurotransmitters, seem to be either underdeveloped or overactive.

While we cannot control the genes we are born with, our early environment helps to shape our brains and temperaments. Childhood trauma is likely an indicator for the development of BPD. Of those diagnosed with BPD, 87 percent report some type of childhood suffering. This can range from abuse to neglect to growing up in a culture of confusion and invalidation. While avoiding childhood trauma may be a way to prevent BPD from developing later in life, this is often not possible. Also, just because trauma is present in those formative years does not mean BPD will develop.

How to Prevent Borderline Personality Disorder

Since the exact causes of BPD are still largely unknown, there is no exact formula for avoiding the disorder completely. There are, however, things you can do that may help, including:

  • Validating emotions
  • Keeping stable schedules
  • Being present
  • Reinforcing positive behavior
  • Being supportive and patient

One of the most successful forms of treatment for BPD is dialectical behavior therapy or DBT. DBT works by helping to validate a person’s feelings while teaching them how to change their behavior patterns and negative thought processes. Children and adolescents who learn that their feelings are valid may have a better chance of not developing the disorder.

Those suffering from BPD also have intense fears of being abandoned and rejected, and it is possible that forming strong attachments early in life can help deter these feelings. BPD can bring on a roller coaster of emotions and mood swings that can be difficult to follow and manage. Behavior problems stemming from frustration and anger are common. While it can difficult, it is important not to reinforce these negative behaviors by giving them attention. Instead, providing nurturing support and positive reinforcement can have the desired effect.

Borderline personality disorder is still being researched, and there is much to learn to help us further understand the disorder and whether or not it can realistically be prevented. Even after its development, however, BPD is successfully treatable. Highly trained professionals at OPI can assist families in learning how to manage BPD and its symptoms. Contact us today to begin learning about the positive changes you can make that will last a lifetime.

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