Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) in teenagers can often be mistaken for rebellious or hormone-induced behavior that we expect teens to exhibit as they navigate the difficulties of adolescence. This belief can lead to misdiagnosis in some teens and set them on a course of ineffective BPD treatment, which will be more damaging in the long run than an accurate diagnosis of BPD.
That’s why it’s important to recognize the symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder, get an official BPD diagnosis for your teen, and seek professional BPD treatment.
Symptoms of BPD in Teens
The nine criteria for BPD listed in the DSM-IV for Borderline Personality Disorder are applicable to teenagers as well as adults. If your teen has exhibited five or more of these symptoms for a prolonged period, they may have BPD. However, in teenagers, there are additional, unique characteristics that may be seen in conjunction with the usual symptoms associated with BPD.
In his book “Borderline Personality Disorder in Adolescents: A Complete Guide to Understanding and Coping When Your Adolescent Has BPD,” Dr. Blaise Aguirre offers the following list of behaviors witnessed in his teenage patients with BPD that may be helpful in considering whether your teen’s behavior is consistent with the psychiatric disorder:
- They sometimes see themselves as loathsome and evil or contaminated. This contamination, they believe, can transfer to others.
- They appear to have a profound sense of hopelessness and self-hatred without other symptoms that would indicate that they are depressed.
- During intense moods, they appear to have a marked lack of a sense of continuity of time. One minute can feel like an hour and vice versa. If they feel miserable, even a moment of misery can feel like an eternity.
- Some have great difficulty in consistently performing at school, despite their intelligence.
- Intense same sex emotional relationships may lead to physical intimacy, even if the teen doesn’t identify themselves as gay.
- They complain that they are universally misunderstood or that they don’t feel they deserve to be understood.
- They seemed to be remarkably attuned to non-verbal communication and, as such, seem to be expert mind-readers.
- They appear to be remarkably susceptible to the emotions of others and, as such, feel porous.
Remember that an official diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder should be made before seeking professional BPD treatment.
Getting BPD Treatment for Your Teen
The best thing about the worst case scenario of having a teenager diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder is that the earlier there is effective intervention and BPD treatment, the better chance your teen has of developing the skills necessary to overcome the worst aspects of BPD and move forward in a positive direction.
Find a therapist who is familiar with Borderline Personality Disorder, has experience working with young people and understands the latest therapeutic approaches to BPD, and get your teen into BPD treatment as soon as possible.
There is a wealth of information and support for those diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and for family and loved ones as well. Education, family therapy, and support groups are available. With a unified family approach to BPD treatment, successful recovery for your teen is possible.