Intense fear of being abandoned is an unfortunately common emotion among people who have borderline personality disorder (BPD). The connection between BPD and abandonment can make life extremely difficult for people with this condition. Thankfully, borderline personality disorder can be treated. With proper care, people can learn to manage their symptoms, overcome their fears, and enjoy a much higher quality of life. Despite what many might think, BPD and abandonment don’t have to go hand in hand.
What is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)?
Borderline personality disorder, or BPD, is a type of mental illness that is characterized by an inability to appropriately moderate or control your emotions.
If you have developed borderline personality disorder, you may feel that your life is constantly swinging from one extreme to the other. For example, when you begin a new relationship, it can quickly become an intense, euphoric experience. Then, just as quickly, the relationship can fall apart, plunging you into deep despair.
There is also a strong connection between BPD and abandonment.
When you have borderline personality disorder, you may constantly fear of being abandoned by those important to you. This fear can prompt you to act in ways that actually undermine the strength of your relationships. These behaviors can also put your own well-being at risk.
You may begin to exhibit signs of borderline personality disorder while you are an adolescent, but most people aren’t diagnosed with BPD until they have reached adulthood.
Differences Between BPD and Bipolar Disorder
Both borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder may involve dramatic mood swings and impulsive behaviors. But it is important to understand the many distinct differences between BPD and bipolar disorder. Here are a few important ones:
- Mood: Though both disorders involve mood instability, people who have BPD aren’t likely to have the extended manic or depressive episodes that are characteristic of bipolar disorder.
- Stability: If a person has bipolar I disorder, they may never have a depressive episode. If a person has cyclothymic disorder (which is another type of bipolar disorder), they may have periods of up to two months without experiencing either manic or depressive symptoms. These differ from BPD, which involves much more rapid and abrupt shifts between joy and despondency.
- Self-harm: Intentional self-injury is much more common among people with BPD than it is among those who have bipolar disorder.
- Gender: The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-5) reports that about 75% of people who have borderline personality disorder are female. According to a 2010 article in the International Review of Psychiatry, most studies have found that the gender breakdown among people with bipolar disorder is about even.
It is possible for a person to develop both conditions. A 2019 study in the journal Medicina noted that about 10% of people with bipolar I disorder and about 20% of people with bipolar II disorder have co-occurring BPD.
Symptoms of BPD
According to the DSM-5, a person must exhibit at least five of the following symptoms of BPD in order to be diagnosed with BPD:
- Frantic efforts to avoid abandonment, even when there is no reason to believe this is likely to occur
- A pattern of intense but unstable relationships
- Lack of consistent self-image or sense of self
- Impulsive behaviors that can cause significant harm, such as unsafe sex, substance abuse, spending sprees, or binge eating
- Self-harm, suicidal ideation, or suicidal behaviors
- Dramatic mood swings
- Persistent sense of emotional emptiness
- Poor anger management, which may include intense and inappropriate outbursts
- Paranoia or dissociation
If you have been experiencing any of these BPD symptoms, please know that help is available. Talk to your family doctor or consult with another qualified professional. This person can help you find the treatment that can significantly improve your life.
Why Does My BPD Make Me Feel Abandoned?
Unstable relationships and a persistent fear of abandonment are two of the more prominent characteristics of borderline personality disorder.
The association between BPD and abandonment may arise from many causes. For example, if you lost a parent or another important person at a young age, this trauma may manifest as the fear of abandonment by someone else later in life. Having a history of relationships that ended quickly and dramatically may also cause you to fear the loss of other friends or future romantic partnerships.
Abandonment fears also stem from poor self-esteem or low self-confidence. If you believe that you are not able to function on your own, the thought of losing a friend or partner can be a source of considerable distress. Also, if you do not believe you are worthy of love and respect, you may worry that those who know you might share this sentiment.
Please remember that poor self-esteem and a lack of self-confidence can be symptoms of borderline personality disorder. The truth is that you are a valuable individual. No matter what disorder you have developed or what symptoms you are feeling, you are deserving of friendship, love, and unconditional support.
Effective treatment can help you develop healthier self-image. Treatment can also help you process any traumatic experiences from your past so they no longer have a negative impact on your life today. These and other services can help you overcome the distress that can result from persistent fear of abandonment.
A combination of therapy and medication can effectively treat BPD. A comprehensive treatment plan for BPD may also incorporate skills training, neurofeedback, yoga, meditation, and a variety of additional services.
Therapeutic options for treating BPD include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). If a person with BPD also has a history of trauma, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy can also be beneficial.
You may receive therapy for borderline personality disorder through individual, group, and family sessions.
Depending on the symptoms you are experiencing, treatment may include antidepressants, antipsychotics, or other types of medication.
Begin Treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder in South Florida
Neuroscience Institute offers personalized treatment for borderline personality disorder at both the residential and partial hospitalization levels. Our treatment center in South Florida is a safe place where adults can receive superior clinical care and compassionate support. If you or someone you care about struggles with BPD, our team is here to help. Visit our admissions page or contact us directly to learn more.