Symptoms & Diagnosis

Holding onto a Job When You Have Borderline Personality Disorder

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Borderline Personality JobIf you have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), it might feel as though it’s harder for you to hang onto a job than it is for other people. Since finding success in most professions depends on one’s ability to interact with others and foster long-lasting relationships built on trust, it can be tricky to maintain a position if you’re struggling with BPD symptoms.

One of the nine symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder, as defined by the DSM-IV, is “a pattern of intense and stormy relationships with family, friends, and loved ones, often veering from extreme closeness and love (idealization) to extreme dislike or anger (devaluation).” Another BPD symptom is “distorted and unstable self-image or sense of self, which can result in sudden changes in feelings, opinions, values or plans and goals for the future (such as school or career choices).”

Neither of these symptoms lends themselves to stable relationships built on trust. And these are only two of the nine symptoms defined by the DSM-IV.

Additionally, as many diagnosed with BPD suffer from a co-occurring disorder, such as substance abuse or severe depression or anxiety, you are often not just dealing with one issue that makes it difficult to focus, prioritize, and be successful in your work. All of this adds up to the fact that it should come as no surprise that it’s tough to hold onto a job if you have Borderline Personality Disorder.

Disruptions at Work

But it’s not just common sense. It’s been confirmed in recent studies by Director of Outpatient Psychiatry at Rhode Island Hospital Mark Zimmerman, M.D., that those diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and Bipolar Disorder have a harder time holding employment.

In studies led by Zimmerman for the Rhode Island Methods to Improve Diagnostic Assessment and Services project, it was found that more than 80 percent of patients with Bipolar Disorder missed time from work due to their personality disorder in the preceding five years, and more than a third missed as much as two years of work.

“Bipolar Disorder often leads to profound disruptions at work and social functioning, and also carries with it an increased risk of suicide,” says Zimmerman.

An inability to control impulses plays a major part in these disruptions, and in the risk of suicide. About 70 percent of people with BPD will attempt suicide at least once, and 8 to 10 percent of those with Borderline Personality Disorder will complete suicide. This rate is more than 50 times the rate of suicide in people who are not diagnosed with a personality disorder.

How BPD Treatment Can Help

It’s important to seek treatment for your Borderline Personality Disorder or Bipolar Disorder to have a fuller life and find more success in the workplace. A BPD treatment center such as Clearview Women’s Center in Los Angeles can help you with disruptive impulses using Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), a core treatment for BPD that includes life and workplace skills, such as mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness.

A good BPD treatment center should also have a program for those who have co-occurring disorders that can affect performance in the workplace, such as issues with substance abuse or anxiety.

After BPD treatment, you will find it easier to hold onto a job and build more long-lasting professional relationships.

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