Symptoms & Diagnosis

Can I Be Tested for Borderline Personality Disorder?

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BPD testLife comes at us from so many different directions, it can send our mind and our emotions reeling. If you have experienced an emotional upset, or breakdown of some sort, it’s often possible to trace it back to its source: a disappointment at a job, the loss of a relationship, an unfulfilled hope.

But when you experience a recurring pattern of mood swings and unstable relationships, intense anger, and depression and anxieties that keep you from living your life in a healthy manner, you may begin to wonder whether or not you have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

Marsha Linehan, the University of Washington psychologist who developed Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) as a treatment for BPD, pointed out in a 2009 interview with Time Magazine that, “Borderline individuals are the psychological equivalent of third-degree-burn patients. They simply have, so to speak, no emotional skin.”

Diagnosis and testing for Borderline Personality Disorder is not quite as simple as diagnosis of third-degree burns, however. Those suffering from the symptoms of BPD must be diagnosed by a mental health professional before being treated at a Borderline Personality Disorder treatment center.

Borderline Personality Disorder Tests

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), there is no one Borderline Personality Disorder test that can singlehandedly determine whether or not you have the disorder.

To determine if you have BPD, a mental health professional will ask you about your symptoms and your family and medical history, including whether there is a history of mental health issues. Co-occurring disorders, such as depression and substance abuse, can cloud a diagnosis, so you will want to mention any additional disorders you’ve been diagnosed with or symptoms you are experiencing.

Determining whether or not you have Borderline Personality Disorder isn’t as simple as taking an online quiz or recognizing the DSM’s criteria for BPD in your own behaviors. Tests for BPD require a more comprehensive and detailed look at your behaviors.

The most well-known test to determine whether or not you suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder is the Diagnostic Interview for Borderlines, Revised (DIB-R), developed by John G. Gunderson and his colleague Jonathan Kolb. The DIB-R considers symptoms that fall under four main behaviors that are specific to BPD:

1. Affect:

  • Chronic/major depression
  • Helplessness
  • Hopelessness
  • Worthlessness
  • Guilt
  • Anger (including frequent expressions of anger)
  • Anxiety
  • Loneliness
  • Boredom
  • Emptiness

2. Cognition:

  • Odd thinking
  • Unusual perceptions
  • Non-delusional paranoia
  • Quasi-psychosis

3. Impulse action patterns:

  • Substance abuse/dependence
  • Sexual deviance
  • Manipulative suicide gestures
  • Other impulsive behaviors

4. Interpersonal relationships:

  • Intolerance of aloneness
  • Abandonment, engulfment, annihilation fears
  • Counter-dependency
  • Stormy relationships
  • Manipulativeness
  • Dependency
  • Devaluation
  • Masochism/sadism
  • Demandingness
  • Entitlement

This BPD test is a good indicator of Borderline Personality Disorder, but Linehan stresses the need for more than standardized testing in the diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. “A behavioral assessment that is specific to you and focuses on your problem behaviors and emotions rather than just on a diagnosis is essential to effective DBT or any psychotherapy,” she said in an interview with The New York Times.

If you are experiencing symptoms that you think are related to Borderline Personality Disorder, seek a professional diagnosis so that you can get the BPD treatment you need to recover from your symptoms.

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