Types of Borderline Personality Disorder

Learn about the four different types of Borderline Personality Disorders and their symptoms. Treatment can include therapy, medication, and inpatient.

Mental health disorders can do more than leave a person with feelings of depression or anxiety. In some cases, the mental health disorder affects the person’s entire personality and how the person presents themselves to the world. This is usually referred to as borderline personality disorder (BPD).

According to the National Institute on Mental Health, around 1.4 percent or four million Americans struggle with BPD. New medications and forms of treatments have made it easier for mental health professionals to treat patients with BPD and help them recover from the worst of the symptoms. 

What Is Borderline Personality Disorder?

A borderline personality disorder is a mental health condition that’s main characteristics include a person’s ability to regulate their emotions and reaction to everyday events. The person struggling with BPD is unable to control or regulate their emotional responses to stress, interactions with others, and more. 

This inability to regulate emotions can lead the person to act impulsively, and many people struggling with BPD have problems in their relationships due to their inappropriate emotional responses that sometimes continue long after they normally would.

BPD also plays a large role in how the person views it, and it can cause self-esteem issues. Help is available for people with BPD, and many of the BPD symptoms are treatable. 

Types of BPD

Professionals have identified four types of borderline personality disorder, but there is considerable overlap between the types. In some cases, a person is diagnosed with more than one type of BPD.  The lines between the different types of BPD are fluid, and people with BPD shouldn’t be surprised if their therapist treats them for overlapping types. 

To decide the type of BPD a person struggles with, the therapist will access their behavior, their emotional reactions to certain situations, and the way the person resolves their emotional outbursts. While there are different types of BPD, the treatments tend to be similar, especially with overlapping types. 

Discouraged BPD

Sometimes referred to as quiet BPD, discouraged BPD is most identifiable by the feelings and fear of abandonment whether real or imagined. The person struggling with discouraged can take extreme measures to avoid being abandoned. Some common signs and symptoms include:

  • Strive for perfection
  • Feelings of disconnection from groups
  • Described as clingy and needy
  • Self-isolation
  • Seeks approval of others
  • Self-harm or suicidal tendencies
  • Doesn’t form connections with others
  • Highly successful

The abandonment issues can be real or imagined, but the person tends to blame themselves and never the other people involved. They might feel like they are unworthy of having close attachments and that’s why they’re often abandoned. 

Impulsive BPD

As one of the most evident symptoms of BPD, impulsivity and reckless behavior are two of the defining characteristics of all people struggling with BPD. The inability to regulate their emotional reactions to triggers leaves the person lashing out and reacting in uncontrollable ways. Some symptoms and signs are:

  • Outbursts, yelling, fighting, and physical violence
  • Charismatic
  • High energy
  • Binges often, which can include eating, shopping, or other types of behavior
  • Engages in risky behaviors, such as unprotected sex with multiple partners and drug use

When people are diagnosed with overlapping types of BPD, the impulsive type is almost always one of them. However, it’s possible for impulsive BPD to be the only type or not involved at all. 

Petulant BPD

Someone who struggles with petulant BPD will usually swing between emotions quickly, and the two main alternating moods are anger and sadness. These individuals often feel as if they’re unloved or unwanted, and they aren’t worthy of being loved. Some common signs of petulant BPD include:

  • Defiant behavior
  • Stubborn and unwilling to concede points
  • Impatience
  • Violent mood swings
  • Passive-aggressive behavior and reactions

Manipulation is a hallmark of people with petulant BPD, and they often struggle with substance abuse disorder, which can be drugs or alcohol. Many of these individuals struggle to maintain positive relationships with others. They often feel unsatisfied with their relationships.

Self-Destructive BPD

Someone with self-destructive BPD will display bitterness and anger much of the time. They’ll also engage in reckless and self-destructive behaviors with great frequency. Some of the behaviors and signs might be:

  • Euphoric feelings
  • Suicidal thoughts or threats of suicide
  • Self-harm, especially cutting, burning, hitting
  • High-risk activities without the proper preparations
  • High energy
  • Insomnia and trouble sleeping
  • Substance abuse disorder, including prescription medication abuse

These self-destructive tendencies can be driven by underlying self-hatred and feeling of unworthiness. Some of these symptoms coincide with symptoms of bipolar disorder, so a medical professional must determine, which mental health disorder the person struggles with to get the proper treatment. 

Treatment for BPD

In the past, many therapists have struggled to treat BPD patients with any of the four types of borderline personality disorder. New therapies and medication have made it easier to treat BPD. Some therapies will include:

  • Medication, which is used to treat the symptoms of BPD
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), helps BPD patients be in the moment and helps them learn to control their emotions
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help people change the way they see themselves, which will change their reactions to triggers

It’s essential that someone who struggles with any of the types of BPD choose therapy and stick with it. 

Inpatient Mental Health Treatment for BPD

The first step for a person struggling with any of the four types of borderline personality disorder can be inpatient mental health treatment. They can use this time to begin medication protocols and attend intense therapy that can help the person begin to recover from the type of BPD that they struggle with. 

At Eden By Enhance in Orange County, California, we provide the care, compassion, and therapy that a person struggling with BPD needs to recognize their struggle and begin to take the necessary steps to overcome it. Our staff members invest in each of our patient’s health and well-being.


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