BPD Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How to Use It

Wondering what the acronym BPD stands for? This article will provide you with everything you need to know about the meaning of BPD.

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health conditions and substance use disorders are on the rise. This means you’ve likely heard someone mention BPD before — but what does this acronym stand for? We’ll tell you. 

Read on to learn everything you need to know about BPD, including its meaning and more. 

What Does BPD Stand For?

According to the experts over at the American Psychological Association (APA), the acronym BPD stands for borderline personality disorder. This can be characterized by a set pattern of instability in mood, interpersonal relationships, and self-image. 

With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few other definitions to help get you better acquainted with BPD:

  • The Macmillan Dictionary defines BPD as a personality disorder marked by a serious disturbance in emotion regulation, an impairment in maintaining healthy relationships, and often self-destructive or impulsive behavior. 
  • According to the Oxford English Dictionary, BPD can be defined as a personality disorder in which an individual may struggle to control their emotions or form stable relationships with others and often acts or behaves impulsively without thinking about the consequences. 

People with borderline personality disorder feel empty, moody, and depressed. They tend to struggle with their emotions, are extremely sensitive, and may go to great lengths to avoid being abandoned. 

Also called emotionally unstable personality disorder (EUPD) and emotional intensity disorder (EID), BPD is a kind of mental health problem that causes unstable moods and reckless behavior. 

What Are the Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder?

The word “borderline” is used in BPD because those with the disorder are thought to be on the border of psychosis and neurosis. Affecting almost two percent of the adult population worldwide, BPD can impact three major areas of a person’s life:

  • How they feel about themselves
  • How they deal with other people
  • How they act

Symptoms of BPD can include feeling as though you’re a horrible person or invisible. The way you view yourself can shift at the drop of a hat — one moment, you might think you’re a complete failure. The next, you may feel as though you’re on top of the world. 

The way you feel about the people in your life can change dramatically over a short time, too. For example, you may feel extremely connected to your bestie one day but especially distant from them the next.  

In short, BPD can manifest in several different ways. Other BPD symptoms include:

  • Fear of abandonment
  • Unstable relationships
  • Unclear of shifting self-image
  • Cognitive distortions or perceptual distortions
  • Self-harm or self-injury
  • Impulsive, self-destructive behaviors
  • Extreme emotional mood swings
  • Explosive or intense anger
  • Substance abuse
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • Feeling out of touch with reality

What Causes BPD?

Experts aren’t sure why some people develop BPD, but it’s thought that the disorder may be caused by a combination of things, such as:

  • Genetics — If personality disorders run in the family, you may be more vulnerable to BPD. That said, more research is needed to confirm a direct familial link.  
  • Biological — Several studies have shown that people with BPD often have differences in the structure and function of their brains. These differences can affect emotion regulation (like impulsivity and aggression), behavior, and self-control.  
  • Environmental Factors or Traumatic Life Events — If your childhood was plagued by family difficulties or instability — such as living with a loved one who has an addiction — you may have developed particular coping strategies or beliefs about yourself. More often than not, early childhood adversity plays a role in BPD. 

How Is Borderline Personality Disorder Treated?

Think you might have BPD? The first step to getting the help you need is to make an appointment with your primary healthcare provider. 

Your doctor or health clinician will review your medical history, current prescriptions, and symptoms to come up with an effective plan for treatment. 

With that in mind, some of the most common treatments and therapies for BPD include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
  • Schema-focused therapy

Psychotherapy is the primary treatment for BPD. Prescription medications are sometimes used as well — especially if you also have symptoms of another mental illness, like bipolar disorder, binge eating or other eating disorders, anxiety disorders, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).     


The acronym BPD stands for borderline personality disorder and refers to a mental illness that is characterized by a feeling of emptiness, poor self-image, and a fear of abandonment.  

While the cause of BPD isn’t well understood, there are treatment options available. So if you think that you might have a personality disorder like borderline personality disorder, make an appointment with a mental health professional who can guide you in the right direction for treatment. 


  1. What are the signs and symptoms of borderline personality disorder? | ReThink
  2. Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) | HelpGuide.org
  3. NIMH » Borderline Personality Disorder | NIMH
  4. borderline-personality-disorder noun – Definition, pictures, pronunciation, and usage notes | Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary | OxfordLearnersDictionaries.com
  5. BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER (noun) definition and synonyms | Macmillan Dictionary
  6. Borderline personality disorder | American Psychiatric