Teenagers are well known for their roller-coaster emotions and impulsivity, caused by everything from hormones and body changes to identity issues and peer pressure. Since these behaviors are typical for teenagers, how can you tell if your teenager is simply going through the normal throes of their teen years or is suffering from a psychiatric disorder such as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)?
Signs of Borderline Personality Disorder in Teenagers
All teenagers exhibit overtly emotional, irrational, and somewhat destructive behavior from time to time. This is perfectly normal as teenagers learn about themselves.
But when do these behaviors cross the line from typical teenage angst and bravado to an actual psychiatric disorder such as Borderline Personality Disorder? Here are a few symptoms of BPD to look for in your teen:
- A string of intense, short, and unstable personal relationships
- Overly intense feelings of depression, abandonment, or emptiness
- Regularly engaging in destructive behavior, such as substance abuse or unsafe sexual activity
- Compulsive tendencies, such as spending money and shoplifting
- Repeated suicidal thoughts and behaviors
These are just some of the things a parent should look out for to see if there’s a possibility that their child has BPD. If you recognize some of the symptoms of BPD in your teenager, what should you do next?
Treatment for Your Teen’s BPD
If you are concerned that your teenager might have Borderline Personality Disorder, you should begin to keep a log of their behavior. You don’t want to jump to conclusions quickly, as this could result in a misdiagnosis. Once you have gathered enough data, you can take it to a mental health professional and talk to them about what they think might be going on with your teenager. They should be able to steer you toward a course of action that is suitable for your teen.
If it’s determined that your teenager does need treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder, there are several treatment options. One of the most successful in treating BPD is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), a method of therapy in which the patient is taught how to recognize their behaviors, how to be mindful of them, and how to better tolerate them. DBT is offered at many residential, outpatient, and day treatment centers for BPD.
There are also medications a teen can take to help balance out their symptoms, if needed. These should only be prescribed once a mental health professional has diagnosed Borderline Personality Disorder to make sure the right medications are being prescribed.
If you believe your teen is suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder, seek help as soon as possible. The earlier BPD is caught, the easier it can be dealt with through treatment (including DBT), hard work, and support.