Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD) - also known as Borderline Personality Disorder - is a diagnosis that we use when a person experiences characteristic patterns of thinking and feeling about themselves and other people, which cause them distress and lead to problems in their lives and relationships.
People with EUPD often report that their emotions feel very intense and can change rapidly. They may often feel afraid or desperate and do impulsive things as a result. They may have problems getting and keeping good relationships because their feelings of anger, fear and sadness are so powerful and difficult to cope with. Often people with EUPD have missed out on opportunities to develop healthy coping strategies and may feel that they can only cope in less healthy ways, like self-harm.
It is thought that symptoms develop in childhood, based on a combination of inherited biology, neurobiology (differences in some structures in the brain), and the childhood environment (e.g. due to neglect or abuse). The developing child is ill-equipped to cope with painful emotions and thoughts. To try to solve life’s problems, they develop self-defeating behaviours.
It’s important to keep in mind that Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder and the person are not the same thing. EUPD is something people have, not something they are.
EUPD cannot be treated with medication, although medications may be prescribed to help with some of the specific symptoms. Many find therapy helpful. We use Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) or an adapted form called Emotional Coping Skills (ECS). Other helpful interventions include developing a ‘My Crisis and Safety Plan’ and second stage therapies also include Cognitive Analytic Therapy. These therapies help by supporting a patient to live in the present and to develop skills in how to regulate emotions, thoughts and behaviours.
Visit the MIND website to find out more about this diagnosis.