Living with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) can be incredibly challenging, especially if it’s not properly diagnosed. Deciphering which condition is causing a person’s symptoms can be a long and confusing process.

Many people who have BPD aren’t aware of their diagnosis. They struggle to control their emotions but usually face many challenges before deciding to get professional medical assistance.

Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for individuals with BPD to be misdiagnosed. In fact, studies show that 40% of people with this condition have received a wrong diagnosis at some point in their lifetime.

Learning more about BPD and seeking the right specialist can help minimize the chances of misdiagnosis and ensure the right and timely treatment,

What Is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Borderline personality disorder is a mental illness characterized by intense and unstable moods, impulsive behaviors, and difficulty managing relationships with others.

This condition is believed to stem from psychological trauma. It is often developed in childhood. While there is no cure for BPD, therapy and medication can help individuals manage their symptoms. To achieve top results, it’s important to diagnose BPD properly and on time.

Unfortunately, there is a great deal of stigma associated with BPD, making it difficult for individuals to accept the problem and seek help for their condition. When people experience symptoms of mental health problems, they often worry about how this knowledge can affect their relationships with others.

That’s one of the reasons why many people don’t know they have a diagnosis. When they finally decide to seek treatment, they may not always be straightforward with the healthcare provider. This makes BPD even harder to diagnose.

Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder

The symptoms of BPD vary from person to person. The most common signs of this condition include:

  • Intense and frequent emotional swings
  • Impulsive behaviors
  • Intense feelings of depression, emptiness, and worthlessness
  • Angry outbursts and difficulty controlling anger
  • An unstable sense of self
  • Chronic feelings of boredom or loneliness
  • Fear of abandonment and difficulty trusting others
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors

People with BPD can have trouble containing and controlling their emotions. This impacts their quality of life significantly. While intense and easy to notice, BPD symptoms make it appear similar to other mental health conditions.

Why is Borderline Personality Disorder Misdiagnosed?

Unlike many other mental illnesses, there is no single test or clinical criteria for diagnosing BPD. This can make it difficult for healthcare providers to accurately diagnose the condition.  Factors that can contribute to misdiagnosis include:

  • Lack of Knowledge: Healthcare providers may not be well-versed in BPD, which can lead to incorrect information being provided to the patient. Meanwhile, patients don’t know enough to seek a doctor that specializes in specific mental health issues.
  • Overlapping Symptoms: Many of the symptoms of BPD overlap with other mental illnesses, making it difficult to pinpoint the exact diagnosis. These conditions include Bipolar Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), and anxiety disorder.
  • Co-Occurring Disorders: Many individuals with borderline personality disorder may also have co-occurring disorders, such as depression or anxiety, which can further complicate the diagnosis process.

Additionally, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (a resource healthcare providers use for diagnosing such conditions as BPD) has vague criteria for diagnosing BPD, making it difficult for healthcare providers to make an educated decision.

How Often is Borderline Personality Disorder Misdiagnosed?

Around 1.4 million Americans live with BPD.  More than 550,000 receive an incorrect diagnosis or never learn what causes their symptoms.  

This occurs due to the complexity of the disorder and the fact that many of the symptoms overlap with other conditions. Healthcare providers may not have all the necessary information to provide an accurate diagnosis. Meanwhile, patients don’t have sufficient knowledge to ask their doctor the right questions or describe the symptoms accurately.

Consequences of BPD Misdiagnosis

Being misdiagnosed with any condition can lead to a number of negative consequences, but this is particularly true when it comes to BPD. Inaccurate treatment plans can be created, leading to further distress as symptoms fail to improve.

Additionally, individuals may be prescribed unnecessary medications and can experience worsening symptoms due to a lack of personalized treatment. 

How to Prevent Misdiagnosis of BPD

The best way to prevent a misdiagnosis of BPD is for healthcare providers to perform a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation before making a diagnosis. It’s also important to use accurate diagnostic criteria when evaluating a patient and to provide them with education about their condition. 

When seeking help for a potential BPD diagnosis, it’s important to educate yourself about the disorder first. To maximize the chances of receiving a correct diagnosis of a mental health condition, patients can ask the healthcare provider several questions.

  • What other mental health disorders could I have?
  • What are the differences between the symptoms of different mental health disorders?
  • How will you decide if I have BPD or something else?
  • What other tests or evaluations do you recommend?
  • What are some of the treatments you suggest for BPD?

Additionally, patients can contribute to receiving a correct diagnosis by being straightforward about their symptoms and seeking professional assistance as soon as possible.

Help Is Available at Healthy Life Recovery

Misdiagnosis of borderline personality disorder is a very real issue and can lead to a number of negative consequences. It’s important to be aware of the potential misdiagnosis of BPD and to seek help from a mental health provider who is knowledgeable and experienced in diagnosing complex mental health disorders.

At Healthy Life Recovery, we understand that living with a mental illness can be difficult, stressful, and overwhelming. Our team of experienced mental health professionals is here to help you navigate your mental health journey and get the help you need.

Besides ensuring a correct diagnosis, our facility offers a variety of services, including mental health evaluations, therapies, and support groups to help patients get their lives back on track.

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