Why Borderline Personality Disorder Is More Common in Women

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), about 75 percent of people who are diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) are women. There are a lot of theories about why this might be.

Some psychiatrists attribute this trend to genetic or hormonal reasons, associating BPD in women with severe cases of premenstrual tension. Others blame BPD on early-onset incest, other sexual abuse, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Other trauma, such as a devastating separation as the result of a death, rejection, or abandonment from a parent, could be the cause. And yet another theory is that women are simply diagnosed with BPD more often, while the symptoms in men simply go unnoticed, undiagnosed, or are mistaken for something else.

The sexual abuse theory tends to get the most attention. A study in the American Journal of Psychiatry found much higher rates of Borderline Personality Disorder – as well as PTSD – among women who experienced childhood sexual abuse. Incestuous abuse occurs approximately 10 times more often in women than men, and about 75 percent of women with BPD have been physically or sexually abused, according to the study.

Such early abuse tends to create a sense of victimization that can make it difficult for these women to trust men. It can also create the excessive preoccupation with sexuality and a damaged self-image that are characteristic symptoms of women with BPD.

Other theories about why BPD happens more often in women than men include the following:

  • Borderline Personality Disorder happens more often in women because they are socialized to be more dependent on others (a symptom of BPD) and can be more sensitive to rejection.
  • Mental health professionals and therapists who diagnose women with BPD may be biased. Studies reveal that clinicians are more likely to diagnose BPD in women than men, even in situations where patient profiles differ only in gender.
  • Men are less likely to seek psychological help than women, making them less likely to be diagnosed.
  • Men might be treated for alcoholism or substance abuse, whereas women are more likely to receive treatment for BPD.
  • Men with BPD are more likely to end up in jail, while women with BPD end up in treatment centers and the mental health system.

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7 Responses to “Why Borderline Personality Disorder Is More Common in Women”

  1. h 05. Oct, 2010 at 8:20 am #

    Hi i have some theories & would like some input from other women(being the preference).
    1Firstly please let me know if it was a (male majority) that diagnosed you
    2Secondly how often is PSTD in place with the diagnosis
    3When the initial contact was made & diagnosed was there a seperation of some kind from a human took place & was the an abusive relationship or no
    4 Is it fear of abandoment or fear of acceptance of the relationship being over & public thought of the breakdown (that somehow someway) you were the fault of the relationship breakdowns’
    5 Do you believe you suffer from stockholm syndrome

    if you cant answer honestly please dont participate

  2. Ari 19. Apr, 2016 at 9:16 pm #

    My wife was diagnosed three times during our relationship alone, by both women and men. Her sexual relationship with her father was solicited by her to get back at her mother for beating her. So, yes, she is also diagnosed with comorbitdity of PTSD, Depression, and an Anxiety Disorder (all which she actually has).

    True to the DSM-V, she engages in self-destructive activities — reckless unprotected sex, reckless driving — and she is impulsive to the finite degree, with money often taking the month’s income and disappearing with a best friend’s husband. Her profession – Federal Prosecutor, currently avoiding work. 100%, she is the abuser of all her ex-husbands and all the children she bore with them. The rage is daily, the abandonment issue constant, as is the golden uterus guilt. She reads people before they speak and can manipulate a conversation away from therapy or health care provider better than psychic card reader.

    In my practice, I have worked with BPD patients, and nearly all of them were women. I knew only one man with BPD very well. While his mother sexually molested him and his sister as a small boy, she forced them to play Russian roulette with her until she shot herself. Not surprising, he shot and killed himself. Most men with this illness do not trust women ever, thus they simply don’t marry because they don’t want to relive the trauma. Only those who have lived in a BPD house truly know the violence, cruelty inflicted on children, and RAGE perpetrated behind closed doors, which spouses and children suffer permanent damage from.

  3. Bre Lovic 29. May, 2018 at 10:29 am #

    I am 53, and diagnosed with both BPD and C-PTSD. I have been living in a family care home for 7 months, and have limited financial resources. I spent a few months in a psychiatric hospital last year after a suicide attempt. I desperately want to get better and live a life worth living. DBT and CBT didn’t work until last year because my C-PTSD wasn’t acknowledged. Prazocin has made all the difference in the world when added to actually getting the people who are triggers and 2 sexual abusers out of my life (my father and only brother.) Dad has died, but if i ever want to have relationships with my family, i have to come to some sort of reconciliation with the brother. I just dont know how to do this, due to the fear he will attack me again given opportunity. I understand he was messed up pretty bad by my Borderline father, and i certainly have not treated him well when i was so sick in my illness. I am responsible for my actions, but he is responsible for his own. Yet the family looks up to him and down on me. Any advice? All of my flashbacks have been about only these 2 men, and my mother who enabled both of them my whole life. I am avoiding her too, because i am still very angry at her too for letting this happen to me. I used opiate pills to cope with them and the flashbacks on and off until 13 months ago. The 3 of them have never admitted anything, will not talk about what my Dad did to all of us, how his abusiveness hurt us and caused each of us to be very dysfunctional. I believe my mother’s Alzheimer’s now is mostly due to a lifetime of untreated depression, the social isolation, the constant humiliation he imposed on her throughout their marriage of 51 years (as he did to my brother and me until we were 18) and the severe stress cycles he chronically put her through. That he did this to her causes me even more anger. I am the only one who ever verbalized our distress, and i am sick of the fascade, the B.S. I don’t know how to get past all this and move on. I thank God i did not have children and hurt them like Dad hurt us- i could not live with myself if i had. Dont have private insurance, so even counseling is restricted. Dont qualify for Medicaid.

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