Causes of Borderline Personality Disorder
Research on the causes and risk factors for BPD is still in its early stages. However, scientists generally agree that genetic and environmental influences are likely to be involved.
Imaging studies in people with BPD have shown abnormalities in brain structure and function, evidence that biology is a factor. In people with BPD, more activity than usual has been seen in the parts of the brain that control feeling and expressing emotions.
Certain events during childhood may also play a role in the development of the disorder, such as those involving emotional, physical and sexual abuse. Loss, neglect and bullying may also contribute. The current theory is that some people are more likely to develop BPD due to their biology or genetics and harmful childhood experiences can further increase the risk.
Borderline personality disorder often occurs with other illnesses. This can make it hard to diagnose, especially if symptoms of other illnesses overlap with the BPD symptoms
Women with BPD are more likely to have co-occurring disorders such as major depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse or eating disorders. In men, BPD is more likely to accompany disorders such as substance abuse or antisocial personality disorder.
According to the NIMH-funded National Comorbidity Survey Replication—the largest national study to date of mental disorders in U.S. adults—about 85 percent of people with BPD also suffer from another mental illness.5
Most of these are listed below, followed by the estimated percent of people with BPD who have them:
- Major Depressive Disorder – 60%
- Dysthymia (a chronic type of depression) – 70%
- Substance abuse – 35%
- Eating disorders (such as anorexia, bulimia, binge eating) – 25%
- Bipolar disorder – 15%
- Antisocial Personality Disorder – 25%
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder – 25%
- Self-Injury – 55%-85%