In this article, we will walk you through everything you need to know about borderline personality disorder in men so that you can begin the process of recovery.
What is Borderline Personality Disorder?
Let’s get one thing straight. A personality disorder (PD) alone does not indicate that there is something wrong with you.
It is merely a pattern of feelings, thoughts, and behaviours that may have subsided within you for a long time – most of which have caused problems for yourself and your relationships. Personality Disorders have been known to affect between 6% and 15% of the population, with 5.4% contributing to individuals with BPD.
Moreover, BPD is a mental health condition that affects your view of the world and yourself. If you have BPD, you typically suffer from “black and white” thinking, an emotional roller-coaster ride of ever-changing mood swings, a constant feeling of self-loathing, and a struggle to foster relationships. Also, you may find yourself acting upon impulsive decisions along with inflicting self-harm, including suicidal thoughts.
Is BPD common? About 1% to 2% of the general population in Canada has BPD. It is commonly recognized in adolescents and young adults, especially in their 20s. However, it is also possible for many to not seek clinical attention until much later in life.
What are the Causes of Borderline Personality Disorder?
The causes of developing BPD is unknown. However, it is very likely for men or women that a combination of factors, rather than a single cause, influence your BPD-related behaviors.
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While there certainly is not a gene for BPD, you are more likely to be diagnosed with the disorder if a close relative has it as well (e.g., parent, sibling). Even more, you can develop a higher risk of contracting BPD if the close relative has an impulse control disorder, such as substance abuse, or an antisocial personality disorder.
Alterations of brain chemicals
Many people falsely associate having BPD with a chemical deficiency, such as an imbalanced production of serotonin. This particular chemical is part of the brain’s neurotransmitters, which are chemicals used by the brain to transmit brain cells’ signals. Unbalanced levels of serotonin have previously been linked to depression, aggression, and anxiety.
Developmental changes in the brain
Those diagnosed with BPD have been observed in studies by researchers. Some have focused on scanning the patients’ brains with an MRI. The scan results revealed that many individuals with BPD have unusual levels of activity in three regions of their brain.
These regions are the amygdala, hippocampus, and orbitofrontal cortex. Consequently, problems circulating within these parts reflect the behavioral symptoms of BPD. Additionally, the development of the three regions is affected by one’s early childhood.
Social and environmental factors
Researchers further propose that a specific situation or a chain of events (e.g., parental neglect, loss of a close friend) can trigger the behaviours commonly associated with Personality Disorders. In particular, your early developmental experiences are more affected because they can influence you later in life.
Therefore, several external factors seem to be prevalent among those with BPD. These include:
What is the History of Borderline Personality Disorder?
It is imperative to know what has been said and done in the past concerning the diagnosis of BPD because you can see how much progress and support there is in the research of BPD today, especially for males.
There used to be the common misconception that someone with BPD is between or “on the borderline” of psychosis and neurosis (anxiety and depression). Even more so, more women have been diagnosed with BPD (75%) in the past than men. There have been several proposed explanations as to why female BPD cases outnumber male BPD. The reasons include:
- Women are popularly stereotyped as the “more emotional” being compared to their male counterparts. Thus, this may lead to some mental health professionals to carry an unconscious bias that female patients are more prone to seek out health treatment, talk out their issues, and so forth. In contrast, pre-established societal biases have profiled males as being the ones to bottle up their concerns usually.
- Due to more women being diagnosed with BPD than men, many people may have likely started to associate BPD with women. A default status has probably occurred where females become the official mental representation or “the face” of BPD in many minds.
- Extending from the previous reason, it becomes more challenging for psychiatrists and psychologists to recognize BPD symptoms in men that do not align with their expectations. In other words, this misconception can interfere with the doctor’s ability to detect BPD in men, even when it is there.
- When some men do confront others about their BPD symptoms, which is rare, they are more likely to encounter prosecutions with the authorities. Many people probably perceive those symptoms as rather merely “aggressive” or “violent” behaviors. In turn, this further explains why most men in the past were misdiagnosed with other health disorders. It can include conduct disorder, ADHD, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression.
What are the Symptoms of Male BPD? And How do they manifest themselves?
Although the overall profile regarding BPD symptoms is mostly the same for men and women, there are still some differences in the way signs of BPD manifest itself for each gender. To describe the general profile with personality disorders, one would usually refer to them as more hostile, aggressive, or assertive.
Questions to Ask Yourself:
To help identify borderline personality disorder traits in men, we gathered common examples and then turned them into questions. Framing the signs of BPD as questions can help us to discover these signs and symptoms in ourselves. (Note: not all items have to apply to your situation). Ask yourself each of the following:
- Do I have an extreme tendency to dominate in my relationship with others usually?
- Am I highly sensitive when it comes to criticism that often I react very aggressively, assuming they are insults most of the time?
- Do I often carry an irrational sense of jealousy and over-possessiveness when it comes to a close loved one?
- Do I often hold grudges against other people?
- Do I tend to urge someone to have sex, even when they do not feel like it, to (unconsciously) compensate for my insecurities and high-stress levels?
- Do I display constant and sudden mood changes throughout the day?
- Am I easily irritable, even by the littlest things, and feel short-tempered?
- Do I have the habit of doing something risky, impulsive, or dangerous as a means to compensate for never feeling good enough?
- Do I narcissistically act out by trying to get sexual attention from others to make someone I like jealous?
- Am I usually unwilling to accept boundaries or rules placed on me, thus hardly following the rules?
- Do I blame others even if I know deep down it is my fault?
- Do I sleep around with different people at once and avoid the question of commitment?
- Do I always feel the need to spend money and spontaneously buy something I don’t need?
- Do I think or even have others tell me that I have an addiction to sex or gambling?
- Do I use drugs or alcohol daily, or more times than I should, to cope with my high stress/anxiety? (Note: Men with BPD are shown to have a lifetime risk of more than 80% of substance abuse. It also further explains why many men with BPD incorrectly (and unknowingly) assume drugs and alcohol caused their problems. Thus, thinking rehab is the only solution when it is not.)
How to Treat a Borderline Personality Disorder in Men?
As mentioned, while there is no cure for BPD, there are still always different treatment options to manage BPD to lead a more productive life. It may include a combination of therapy, medication, and self-help.
Therapy or counseling is a popular method for combating BPD symptoms. The several different therapies that may help are:
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is the most common treatment of BPD. Its goal is to teach individuals with BPD how to manage their emotions, affecting their behavior by engaging in mindfulness methods. DBT is implemented through one-on-one sessions and group skills training. An outcome of DBT would be your enhanced self-perception.
- Mentalization-based therapy helps you identify the underlying causes of your behavior and those of other people.
- Transference-focused treatment enables you to maintain a positive relationship with other people by training you to be the person ‘on the outside looking in.
- Supportive therapy zooms in more on helping you increase your self-esteem by starting small and focusing on ways to improve your daily activities.
- Interpersonal group therapy allows you to engage with other like-minded people who also have BPD and share personal struggles and success stories.
- Family-based treatment helps your loved ones understand more about BPD and provide them with coping ideas.
Utilization of medications is no guarantee for eliminating BPD symptoms permanently. They do, however, temporarily alleviate some severe symptoms of BPD. Possible helpful ones include mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and certain antidepressants.
Most importantly, the most effective treatment is found within yourself. Just by educating yourself on BPD, you are already on that journey towards recovery. Like all good things, the symptoms of BPD can take time to treat.
Additionally, balancing your focus on other problematic areas associated with BPD (substance abuse, other mental illnesses you may have) can help everything around you steadily fall into place.