Tag Archives: Diagnosing Bpd

BPD – A Masked Illness : And Why It’s Hard To Identify

Bpd_and_childhood_trauma

We have seen from other posts how childhood trauma, especially multiple and cumulative trauma, is strongly associated with the development of borderline personality disorder (BPD) in adult life.

However, many BPD sufferers are at risk of going undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.

The reason for this is that BPD can generate a number of symptoms associated with other conditions that mask the underlying illness (BPD).

Sadly, because of this, BPD can go undiagnosed for years, decades or a whole lifetime. This means many go without the proper treatment they require.

When one considers that approximately ten per cent of those diagnosed with BPD end their lives by suicide, the full, tragic implications of this failure of accurate diagnosis can be appreciated.

What Symptoms Of BPD Can Mask It, Thus Making It Less Likely To Be Accurately Diagnosed?

They include :

– excessive use of alcohol, leading to a diagnosis of alcoholism

self-harm / suicidal thoughts, leading to a diagnosis of depression

instability of mood, leading to diagnosis of cyclothymic or bipolar disorder

aggression/violence, leading to diagnosis of sociopathy (sometimes still referred to as psychopathy)

eating problems, leading to diagnosis of anorexia nervosa or bulimia

Whilst this list is not exhaustive, it represents some of the ways in which BPD can seemingly, upon preliminary invetigations, present itself as other psychological conditions, leading to misdiagnosis or incomplete/partial diagnosis.

bpd

Because, too, many with BPD are able to work successfully, and/or socially integrate successfully, much of the time without displaying blatant signs of psychological pathology, identifying BPD in individuals becomes trickier still.

However, such individuals are still likely to display tell-tale signs of the disorder due to sudden, dramatic and unpredictable shifts in mood (such as explosions of rage) which may, by the layman (or even the professional) be put down to ‘a difficult temperament’.

In order to correctly diagnose BPD it is necessary to look at the whole tapestry of the interplay of the individual’s behaviours and emotions in the context of their lives as a whole, with a particular focus on their relationship history (tends to be tumultuous), mood stability/instability, drug/alcohol use, sexual history (tends to be promiscuous and high risk), internal/mental life (often marked by feelings of chronic emptiness and lack of identity), emotional reactiveness/lability, and, vitally, of course, experience of childhood trauma.

In short, accurate diagnosis calls for a holistic approach; only then will all BPD sufferers get the treatment they both desperately need and deserve.

Resources:

 

BPD

Above eBook now available on Amazon for instant download. Click here.

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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