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What is Involved in Making a Borderline Personality Disorder Diagnosis?

Lainie Petersen
Lainie Petersen

Getting a borderline personality disorder diagnosis can be a complicated process. Borderline personalty disorder should be diagnosed by a licensed mental health professional and one with experience in diagnosing and working with patients who have the condition. The process of arriving at a borderline personality disorder diagnosis may consist of developing a physical and mental health profile for the patient; conducting interviews with both the patient and, if possible, his friends, family, and co-workers; and administering psychometric testing.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-IV) and as its name suggests, borderline personality disorder is classified as a disorder of personality. Personality disorders are sometimes described as patterns of social behavior that can result in major difficulties in life functioning. In the case of borderline personality disorder, those who suffer from the condition demonstrate significant instability in their emotions, which results in extremely negative and potentially harmful acting-out behaviors. Individuals with borderline personality disorder are often considered to be very fearful of abandonment by others and may behave in ways that alternate between being clingy and possessive and then alienating of others. Mood swings are common among those with borderline personality disorder, as are impulsive behaviors.

Borderline personality disorder is marked by wild mood swings and impulsive, risky behavior.
Borderline personality disorder is marked by wild mood swings and impulsive, risky behavior.

Some symptoms of borderline personality disorder are similar to those found in both clinically healthy people as well as individuals who suffer from other types of psychiatric disorders. The difficult in coming to a borderline personality disorder diagnosis is determining whether the symptoms reflect a pattern of behavior or temporary or contextual stresses. Even if the behaviors do appear to be habitual, they may also be connected with a condition that is very different from borderline personality disorder.

A clinician would typically begin a borderline personality disorder diagnosis by interviewing the patient and attempting to find out if there are other explanations for her self-reported behavior. If the patient is fortunate enough to have friends and family who have stuck by him, the clinician may speak to them about his behavior in order to get a better perspective and to establish whether a long-standing pattern of typical borderline personality disorder behavior exists. In some cases, the clinician may perform or refer the client for psychological testing. The The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI-2) is a commonly used for the diagnosis of personality disorders, including borderline personality disorder. In taking the test, the client completes a long questionnaire that asks about the client's experiences, beliefs, and behavior. The results of the test won't determine a diagnosis in most cases, but can be included with the results of other investigations by the clinician to develop an accurate understanding of the patient's condition.

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    • Borderline personality disorder is marked by wild mood swings and impulsive, risky behavior.
      By: ivolodina
      Borderline personality disorder is marked by wild mood swings and impulsive, risky behavior.