Borderline Personality Disorder in Teens

Experience exceptional mental health treatment with the dedicated and skilled team at Transitions Counseling and Consulting. 

Our accredited outpatient services include a full range of treatment options for children, teens, and adults, ensuring you can receive continuous care from the same compassionate team as your needs change.

Borderline Personality Disorder in Teens

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) in teens is a complex mental health condition characterized by emotional dysregulation, unstable relationships, and a fluctuating sense of self. It affects adolescents, often leading to significant distress and impairment in various areas of their lives. Teens with borderline personality disorder may experience intense mood swings, impulsive behaviors, self-harm tendencies, and a pervasive fear of abandonment. 

The challenges of navigating adolescence combined with the symptoms of BPD can create significant emotional turmoil and affect the teen’s relationships, academics, and overall well-being. Understanding and addressing borderline personality disorder in teens requires a compassionate and comprehensive approach that includes therapy, support networks, and evidence-based interventions.

Borderline Personality Disorder in Teens

What are the risk factors for BPD in Teens?

Understanding the risk factors for borderline personality disorder in teens is crucial for early identification and intervention. While the exact causes of BPD are not fully understood, several factors have been identified that may be associated with its development. According to the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH), these risk factors include:

Family History

Teens with a family history of BPD or other mental health disorders may be at a higher risk of developing BPD themselves. Genetics within families can play a role in increasing susceptibility.

Brain Structure or Function

Studies have suggested that certain abnormalities in brain structure or function, particularly in areas related to emotional regulation and impulse control, may contribute to the development of BPD in teens. However, more research is needed to fully understand the relationship.

Environmental, Social, or Cultural Factors

Adverse childhood experiences, such as neglect, abuse, or unstable family dynamics, is reported by teens with BPD. Additionally, certain social or cultural factors, such as a history of trauma or exposure to invalidating environments, may also contribute.

Signs and Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder in Teens

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of borderline personality disorder in teens is crucial for early identification and intervention. While the presentation of symptoms can vary, here are some common indicators to be aware of, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP):

Relationship Difficulties

  • Great efforts to avoid real or perceived abandonment.
  • Sense of being misunderstood.
  • Intense and volatile relationships.
  • Lack of personal boundaries.
  • Alternate between idealizing and devaluing others.

Impulsive Behaviors

  • Substance abuse.
  • Reckless driving.
  • Self-harm.
  • Unsafe sexual activities.

Challenges Navigating Thoughts and Feelings

  • Frequent and intense mood swings.
  • Episodes of anger or rage.
  • Feeling emotionally “empty” or disconnected.
  • Inconsistent changes in self-image and identity.
  • Thoughts of suicide.

It’s important to note that these symptoms can vary in severity and presentation among individuals. If you suspect that your teen may be exhibiting signs of BPD, seeking professional evaluation and guidance is crucial.

Treating BPD in Teens

When it comes to treating BPD in teens, a comprehensive and compassionate approach is essential to support their well-being. According to the Mayo Clinic, a comprehensive treatment plan could include the following:

  • Individual Therapy: Mentalization-based therapy and transference-focused psychotherapy focus on relationships whereas dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) focuses on skill building. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is also used in the treatment of borderline personality disorder in teens.
  • Group Therapy with DBT: DBT is a widely recognized and evidence-based therapy for treating BPD in teens. It focuses on building skills in emotional regulation, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, and mindfulness. Our intensive outpatient programs and partial hospitalization programs utilize DBT because it is an evidence-based treatment.
  • Family Involvement: Including the family in the treatment process is crucial for fostering understanding and creating a supportive environment. Family therapy can help improve communication, enhance problem-solving skills, and strengthen relationships.
  • Medication: In some cases, medication may be prescribed to help manage specific symptoms associated with BPD, such as depression, anxiety, or mood instability. To ensure effective medication management, it is crucial to have diligent monitoring and prescription by a qualified healthcare professional with experience managing borderline personality disorder in teens.

It’s important to remember that every teen’s journey with BPD is unique, and treatment should be tailored to their individual needs. Seeking the guidance of mental health professionals experienced in treating BPD in teens is crucial for developing an effective and personalized treatment plan.

Parenting a Teenager with Borderline Personality Disorder

Parenting a teenager with BPD can be challenging, but with a compassionate and informed approach, it is possible to provide valuable support and guidance. Understanding that borderline personality disorder in teens can manifest as intense emotions, impulsive behaviors, and turbulent relationships is essential. As a parent, it’s important to create a safe and stable environment that promotes open communication and understanding. 

Setting clear boundaries, while also showing empathy and validation, can help your teen navigate their emotions effectively. Educating yourself about the condition, seeking professional help, and connecting with a parent support group can provide invaluable resources for both you and your teen.

Treatment for Teens with BPD at Transitions Counseling

At Transitions Counseling, we offer comprehensive and compassionate mental health treatment options. Our dedicated team understands the unique challenges that borderline personality disorder in teens presents and is committed to providing effective care and support. We offer a range of services, including individual therapy, group therapy, accredited intensive outpatient programs, partial hospitalization programs, psychiatric assessments, psychiatry services, and medication management.

Through individual therapy sessions, teens can explore their emotions, develop coping strategies, and work towards personal growth. Our accredited intensive outpatient and partial hospitalization programs offer structured and comprehensive treatment approaches. Our parent support group provides an encouraging environment for parents to connect, learn from one another, and find comfort in knowing they are not alone in their journey. With a focus on holistic care, our psychiatric assessments and psychiatry services ensure a thorough evaluation and medication management when necessary. At Transitions Counseling, our goal is to empower teens with BPD and provide them with the tools and support they need for their healing journey.

How We Can Help You

We tailor treatment to fit your unique needs. Our team offers the full continuum of outpatient therapy services for the whole family. This means you can work with the same team as your treatment needs change over time.