Borderline Personality Disorder in Teens: Symptoms & Treatment

Growing up as a teenager is a long, winding road; it is incredibly difficult to navigate. It becomes even more complicated when throwing a mental health disorder into the mix. This is especially true as it relates to Borderline Personality Disorder in teens.

However, just because it’s difficult to understand doesn’t mean we can’t make sense of it. There are resources available to help a person better understand what they are going through mentally; at Ridge RTC, we aim to provide just that.

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) in teens is a serious mental health disorder that impacts the way a person thinks and feels about themselves and others. This could cause problems functioning in everyday life. BPD includes self-image issues, difficulty managing emotions and behavior, and a pattern of unstable relationships.

This often leads individuals to view themselves in extremely negative, self-deprecating terms. This unstable self-concept can manifest as sudden shifts in self-identity, including fluctuating self-esteem, changing goals, values, and aspirations, as well as inconsistent perception of personal strengths and weaknesses. Individuals with BPD might struggle with feeling unworthy or fundamentally flawed, fostering an excessive fear of abandonment or rejection. Such a turbulent self-perception can result in impulsive actions and volatile relationships, further complicating the individual’s life.

This personality disorder in teens may manifest as intense episodes of anger, depression, and anxiety that can last from a few hours to days, leading to school refusal in teens and sometimes worse. It is difficult to conquer the mountainous nature of BPD; despite these challenges, with the right treatment and support, individuals with BPD can lead fulfilling lives.

Borderline Personality Disorder in teens is generally thought to be a result of a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental factors. Studies suggest a strong hereditary component; individuals with a close family member with BPD are at a higher risk. Environmental factors, like a traumatic early childhood experience (such as abuse, neglect, or loss), could also contribute to developing BPD during adolescence. It’s important to remember that these factors don’t guarantee the disorder’s development but merely increase susceptibility.

The onset of the disorder typically occurs between the ages of 15 and 25. Symptoms can vary but generally include anything from impulsivity to self-harm. Teens with BPD are also likely to have problems with identity formation, distorted self-image, and difficulty regulating emotions.

People with BPD often experience intense emotional instability and impulsive behavior, and have a pattern of unstable relationships. Emotional symptoms may include mood swings, chronic feelings of emptiness, intense anger, and suicidal ideation in teens. Fear of abandonment often leads to frantic efforts to avoid being left alone. Impulsive behaviors might consist of reckless driving, substance abuse, or risky sexual behavior. Lastly, there may also be periods of stress-related paranoia and loss of contact with reality, lasting a few minutes to a few hours.

borderline personality disorder in teens

What are Some Ways Parents Can See Early Symptoms of BPD in Teens?

There are several early signs that parents can observe that may indicate Borderline Personality Disorder in their teens. These may include intense mood swings, impulsive behaviors, difficulty in maintaining relationships, and a persistent fear of abandonment. They may also portray a distorted self-image, often leading to changing goals, values, and self-identification. Instances of self-harming behaviors, like cutting or burning, could also serve as a red flag. However, it’s crucial to note that only licensed professionals should diagnose BPD, and if parents notice these signs, they should seek professional help immediately.

Other symptoms of BPD include hypersensitivity to criticism, intense feelings of emptiness, and difficulty in controlling emotions. It may be difficult to understand when your teen has a problem, but if you’re asking yourself this question repeatedly, it won’t hurt to seek professional help. Teens may also experience difficulty in regulating their behavior, often leading to reckless spending or substance abuse. Severe cases could even lead to extreme outbursts or attempts at suicide.

Risk Factors of Teens with Borderline Personality Disorder

Adolescents with Borderline Personality Disorder face various risk factors. These can include a history of childhood trauma, such as abuse or neglect, and a family history of mental health disorders. Emotional instability, impulsive behaviors, and intense episodes of anger are some common symptoms seen in teens with BPD. It’s worth noting that these teenagers are more susceptible to engaging in self-destructive behaviors and have a higher risk of suicide. Therefore, early diagnosis and intervention are crucial for improving their long-term well-being and mental health outcomes.

Therapy is the primary mode of treatment for BPD in teens. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) have been shown to be particularly effective for adolescents with this disorder. CBT seeks to help individuals recognize patterns in their thoughts and behaviors that are having a negative impact on their lives, while DBT focuses on teaching skills to help teens regulate their emotions and cope with stressful situations.

Ridge RTC Offers Treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder in Teens and Adolescents

At Ridge RTC, our ultimate goal is to ensure that your teen is getting the help they need on an individualized basis. Individualized treatment for mental health is particularly crucial for teens due to the unique challenges and transitions they undergo during this developmental stage. Adolescence is characterized by significant physical, emotional, and social changes, which often come with increased stress and vulnerability to mental health disorders. Individualized treatment addresses the specific needs, experiences, and circumstances of each teen, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.

Tailored treatment approaches can more effectively alleviate symptoms, improve coping strategies, and foster resilience; this has the potential to enhance the overall well-being and future prospects of teenagers. Treatment at Ridge RTC for teens with borderline personality disorder consists of a short-term RTC (residential treatment center). Short-term residential treatment for teens offers stabilization, assessment, clinical help, emotional regulation skill building, and more for teens with borderline personality disorder.

What are Therapies for Borderline Personality Disorder?

There are several therapeutic approaches that have been found to be effective in treating Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Each of these therapies has its strengths and is used according to the individual needs of the patient. These include the following:

  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): This is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy that emphasizes the development of four skill sets: mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This approach helps individuals with BPD identify and change core beliefs and/or behaviors that are inaccurate and harmful.
  • Schema-Focused Therapy (SFT): SFT combines elements of CBT with other forms of therapy to help people with BPD identify unmet needs that they are trying to fill in unhealthy ways, and to develop healthier ways to get these needs met.
  • Mentalization-Based Therapy (MBT): This approach helps people with BPD develop a better understanding of their own mental states, as well as the mental states of others.
  • Transference-Focused Psychotherapy (TFP): This is a talk therapy that helps people with BPD understand their emotions and interpersonal problems through the relationship between the patient and therapist.

Therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder is often effective in managing and reducing symptoms, improving quality of life, and fostering healthier relationships. These evidence-based therapies have been found to be particularly beneficial. However, the effectiveness can vary greatly from person to person and often depends on factors like the individual’s commitment to therapy, the severity of the symptoms, and the skill and experience of the therapist.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy that was specifically developed to help individuals diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. This therapy aims to reduce self-harming behaviors often associated with BPD and improve patients’ ability to handle intense emotions and distress. It does this by emphasizing the dialectic process–a form of argument where opposing views are resolved through communication and understanding. The primary components of DBT include individual therapy, group skills training, telephone coaching, and a consultation team for healthcare providers.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT for teens) is a therapeutic approach often used to treat Borderline Personality Disorder. This evidence-based treatment focuses on identifying and changing maladaptive thought patterns that lead to disruptive behaviors. It emphasizes the development of coping skills to manage emotional distress and reduce self-destructive behaviors. CBT for BPD often includes techniques such as mindfulness, emotional regulation, and distress tolerance, aiming to help individuals lead healthier and more fulfilling lives.

CBT has been shown to be highly effective in treating BPD. Research suggests that it can significantly reduce symptoms, improve interpersonal functioning, and increase life satisfaction for those with the disorder. Additionally, studies indicate that CBT may reduce relapses and promote long-term remission of symptoms.

Ridge RTC is Equipped to Help Those Suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder

Those suffering from borderline personality disorder may feel exhausted from bearing the weight of their condition; they were never meant to do it alone. At Ridge RTC, we offer comprehensive treatment for teenage personality disorders in Maine. If you or a loved one would like to find out more, you can contact us here.

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