The borderline personality disorder (BPD) diagnosis process

Outlining what BPD is, how to get treatment, and how BPD gets diagnosed.

Call Us
Tap on a number to call

Borderline personality disorder is one of the ten recognised personality disorders. This type of personality disorder can often be diffcult to manage and often characterized with unpredictable thinking and behaviour. It's often called emotionally unstable personality disorder, EUPD, but both names refer to the same mental health condition.

If you think that you or a loved one may have borderline personality disorder (BPD) and are looking for further information on receiving a BPD 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, visit your GP. Bringing up your BPD concerns to your doctor may be frightening at first, but it's the first step that needs to be done in order to have a borderline personality disorder assessment completed. 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 borderline personality disorder symptoms are having on your quality of life.

As part of the BDP diagnosis process, your GP may then refer you for an in-depth BPD assessment and expert treatment at Priory. Our psychiatrists are highly experienced in working with people with BPD, and providing them with access to the most effective treatment. In addition, while we prefer people to have a GP referral, this isn’t essential and you can also contact Priory directly to discuss your needs and options for treatment.

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 borderline personality disorder 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 for personality disorder.

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.


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.

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

Contact us for help, referrals or more information

At Priory, we want to ensure we provide the very best service to everyone we support. Your feedback is really important to us.

Call Us
Tap on a number to call