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Borderline Personality Disorder

A Problem with emotion regulation is a defining characteristic of this disorder.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a serious mental illness recognized by some professionals and discounted by others.  Parents for Children’s Mental Health Waterloo Region feel that they cannot summarize this mental illness effectively.

Below we have simply listed some of the things we are aware of as characteristics associated with this diagnosis. There are often additional diagnosis that can fit or can be co-occurring which makes a diagnosis more difficult.

A number of different criteria have been developed to suggest possible Borderline Personality Disorder in children. A problem with emotion regulation is a defining characteristic of this disorder. If the symptoms listed below are apparent it is important to get a complete evaluation by a professional.

A diagnosis of borderline personality disorder is usually made in adults, not children or adolescents. Signs and symptoms may go away with maturity.

Some Signs and Symptoms

  • Explosive and impulsive behavior
  • Unstable self-image
  • Mood swings
  • Intense rages, hostility, oversensitivity, overreaction
  • Self-injurious behaviours like cutting, burning, substance abuse
  • Misinterpreting conversations in a negative way
  • Aggressive towards themselves or others and poor impulse control
  • Significant issues with thinking and reasoning
  • Makes friends who turn into enemies suddenly – unstable relationships

Treatment is possible. Early intervention is critical. There is evidence that children with BPD do improve with appropriate treatment. This could be a combination of medication and psychotherapy and Dialectic Behaviour Therapy. See finding support for more information on Dialectic Behaviour Therapy.


Useful resources/links for Borderline Personality Disorder: -
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) -
BPD Demystified -
ational Institue for Mental Health –