Common Co-occurring Disorders: BPD and PTSD

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) has a high rate of co-occurrence with various mental health disorders. High on that list is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Though BPD and PTSD are two distinct mental health disorders with their own set of diagnostic criteria, the two co-occur at surprisingly high rates.

Studies have put the co-occurrence of BPD and PTSD at anywhere from 26 percent to nearly 60 percent. While there is no concrete reason for this high rate of co-occurrence, several theories exist, as explained in a 2003 article in The American Journal of Psychiatry:

  • People with Borderline Personality Disorder may have been exposed to more incidences of trauma, either in childhood or as an adult.
  • People with BPD may be at a higher risk for trauma, such as victimization, as adults because of the impulsivity and unstable relationships characteristic of BPD. This could also indirectly increase the risk of them developing PTSD.
  • People with BPD may be more vulnerable to the psychological effects of traumatic stress and have less of an ability to recover from such events, leading to higher rates of PTSD.

Similar Symptoms of BPD and PTSD

In addition to the effects of trauma on people with Borderline Personality Disorder, there are some symptoms of BPD and PTSD that do overlap. The following symptoms of BPD and PTSD commonly overlap:

  • Anger
  • Emotional regulation problems
  • Mood swings
  • Fear of abandonment
  • Dissociation

BPD and PTSD Treatment

Despite their overlapping symptoms, an effective recovery from either disorder requires the treatment modalities that directly address the symptoms of BPD and PTSD.

BPD treatment centers around Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), which can help patients to develop self-awareness of their emotions and regain control of them. PTSD treatment involves the use of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Somatic Experiencing (SE) therapies to help patients work through their PTSD symptoms and past traumatic events.

If you are suffering from both BPD and PTSD, it is best to find a treatment center that can simultaneously treat both disorders for the greatest chance at a long-term recovery. Take time to research residential and outpatient treatment centers that specialize in co-occurring disorders, including BPD and PTSD, so that you can target the symptoms of both disorders at once.

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