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The borderline personality disorder (BPD) diagnosis process

If you think that you or a loved one may have borderline personality disorder (BPD) and are looking for further information on receiving a diagnosis, we have outlined the steps involved in the process so that you can start your journey fully informed and assured that you are taking the right action.

Visiting your GP

If you want to talk about BPD and a possible diagnosis, a common first step is to visit your GP. During an appointment, they may ask you about your symptoms to determine whether or not you could be experiencing BPD or another mental health condition. They may also ask you about the impact that the symptoms are having on your quality of life.  

Your GP can refer you for an in-depth assessment. At this point, you may want to mention that you would like to be referred to a private medical service such as Priory. With plenty of experience working with personality disorders, our psychiatrists are highly capable of diagnosing and providing effective treatment for BPD.

You can also start your journey by seeking a psychiatrist’s opinion, or following up your initial visit to your GP with such an appointment so that you are confident in the next steps that you take.

Assessing for a BPD diagnosis

During your assessment for BPD, you will typically be asked the following questions:

  • Do you have an intense fear of being alone? Does this cause you to act out of the ordinary or in an extreme manner in order to avoid being alone?
  • Do you have long-term feelings of emptiness and loneliness?
  • Has there been a pattern of intense and unstable relationships with people, where you move from loving the person to thinking that you hate them?
  • Do you feel that you don’t have a defined self-image or have an unclear sense of self?
  • Do you take part in impulsive and reckless activities?
  • Have you made suicide threats or attempts in the past, and have you self-harmed?
  • Do you experience severe mood swings, which can last for a few hours up to a few days?
  • Do you ever have inappropriate and extreme feelings of anger, which you find difficult to control?
  • Do you feel paranoid when in stressful situations, or feel disconnected from the world, or from yourself?

Your doctor will listen to your responses, and learn about your interactions and behaviours, to determine whether to provide a BPD diagnosis.

Discussing your options and receiving treatment

Once you receive a diagnosis for BPD, the next step is to start having conversations about possible treatment options.

At Priory, we are able to provide you with access to a number of appropriate BPD treatments so that you can receive the right level of support to be able to manage the disorder going forward. A treatment plan for BPD can include the following:

Access to therapeutic communities

We can provide residential based treatment, where you can receive 24-hour care and support, including psychotherapy sessions, rehabilitative workshops and creative classes. You also have the opportunity to work on your wellbeing through yoga and meditation activities.

During this highly structured programme, you will learn techniques and coping strategies to help you manage symptoms of your personality disorder in daily life.

Mentalisation-based therapy (MBT)

MBT can provide you with the skills to examine and analyse your own thoughts and beliefs. This can give you the ability to better assess your thoughts in daily life, to prevent the impulsive behaviours that they may have previously caused.

Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT)

At Priory, our DBT programme includes both group and one-to-one talking therapy sessions. During the therapy, you take the time to address emotional issues related to your personality disorder. You learn how to accept your emotions and recognise them as real and valid. At the same time, you also discover new ways to challenge and respond to these emotions so that you are able to feel and act more positively in the future.

Medication

While no medication is used to specifically treat personality disorders, certain mood stabilisers and anti-psychotic medication may be recommended if you have a co-existing mental health disorder.

Reviewed by Dr Liam Parsonage (BA, MBBS, MRCPsych, PGCert) Consultant Psychiatrist at Priory Hospital North London

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For details of how Priory can provide you with assistance regarding mental health and wellbeing, please call 0800 840 3219 or click here to submit an enquiry form. For professionals looking to make a referral, please click here

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