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WILD mood swings, impulsive behaviour, unstable relationships and inappropriate anger are just a few of the symptoms that are linked to borderline personality disorder (BPD). Usually occurring by early adulthood, the unstable pattern of interacting with others, often persistent over a period of years, is usually closely related to the person's self-image and early social interactions. The pattern is present in a variety of settings (not just at work or home) and often is accompanied by a similar lability (fluctuating back and forth, sometimes in a quick manner) in a person's emotions and feelings. As with all personality disorders, the person must be at least 18 years old before they can be diagnosed with this serious personality disorder, three times as common in women as in men. It also reportedly affects approximately 2% of the general population. Like most personality disorders, BPD typically will decrease in intensity with age with many people experiencing few of the most extreme symptoms by the time they are in the 40s or 50s. One BPD sufferer, Susan J reflected: "As someone diagnosed with BPD I can hurt someone's feelings at a very deep level and think I have only superficially wounded them. "I have hurt my therapist on occasion and used her as an emotional punching bag." Treatment of BPD typically involves long-term psychotherapy, particularly dialectic behavioural therapy with a therapist that has experience in treating this kind of personality disorder. With research showing that many people's conditions improve over time, pursuing treatment and learning about the condition and ways to manage it often helps. Locally, the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (www.sadag.org) has various experts and doctors to help anyone suffering from BPD and their website also has informative tips and guides to deal with it. Symptoms of borderline personality disorder Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterised by alternating between extremes of idealisation and devaluation. Identity disturbance, such as a significant and persistent unstable self-image or sense of self. Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (spending, sex, substance abuse,reckDO YOU SUFFER FROM BP anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days). Chronic feelings of emptiness. Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights). Transient, stress-related paranoid thoughts or severe dissociative symptoms. * Not her real name. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 4 BPQCANDID)ftiA nervous; strt d young W'05 n looks anxiously, craving for something. via ' STV' '