Potential Risks of Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder, or simply BPD, is usually engulfed in all sorts of stigma and misconceptions. But probably the most common is none other than the alleged inherent danger posed by people with BPD. 

However, the truth is that many people with BPD are not harmful. However, some symptoms and behaviors tend to be challenging, and there are even instances when these can pose a risk to the person and the people around them. 

Potential Risks and Impulsive Behaviours in BPD

As the core aspect of BPD, impulsive behaviors can often result in potential risks for the affected individual and other people. Understanding such behaviors and their potential results is critical to providing better support and ensuring proper management of the challenges that the person with BPD may deal with. 

borderline personality disorder is a disability to manage emotions
A borderline personality disorder impacts a person’s ability to manage their emotions.

The following are some of the impulsive behaviours linked with BPD together with the risks they may create:

Reckless Driving 

Reckless driving is among the most common manifestations of impulsivity, which can put the person with BPD and other road users at serious risk. It may be in the form of ignoring traffic signs, speeding, and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Unsafe Sexual Behaviours 

Being impulsive may also lead a person with BPD to develop risky sexual behaviors, including unprotected sex or having several sexual partners. Such behaviors can lead to sexually transmitted infections, emotional distress, and unplanned pregnancies. 


People who are diagnosed with BPD are also more prone to commit self-harm as a way of coping with their intense emotions. They may feel the impulse to inflict injury or harm on themselves without considering its long-term effects. Self-harm might also lead to scarring, severe physical injuries, and, worse, the heightened risk of accidental death. 

Substance Abuse

People with BPD may end up turning to alcohol or drugs to deal with their emotional pains, impulsively using such substances without thinking of the possible dangers they may bring. 

adults with borderline personality disorder develop a substance use disorder
About 78% of adults with borderline personality disorder develop a substance use disorder or addiction at some time in their lives. Alcohol and drugs are often abused to relieve emotional distress temporarily.

Substance abuse can result in issues with physical health, strained relationships with loved ones and other people, addiction, and more risks of taking part in other forms of dangerous behaviors. 

Suicidal Behaviours 

Attempts and thoughts of suicide are more common among people with BPD because of emotional pain and impulsivity. These behaviors are often a threat to life and need support and immediate intervention from mental health experts

It’s critical to acknowledge the fact that not all people diagnosed with BPD will develop such impulsive behaviors. Aside from that, the frequency and severity of such behaviors also tend to vary significantly. But as long as everyone understands the possible risks linked with impulsivity as a result of BPD, it will be easier to support patients in managing and dealing with these challenges and applying suitable coping strategies. 

Effective treatments, including Mentalization-Based Therapy (MBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), can help BPD patients manage their impulsivity, develop healthier coping mechanisms, and lower associated risks. 

mental healt experts for support
People diagnosed with borderline personality disorder need support from loved ones and mental health experts.

Most importantly, support from families and loved ones, as well as those of mental health professionals, is critical to helping people with BPD navigate the challenges of their disorder and live a healthier and more stable life. 

Aggression and Emotional Dysregulation 

Emotional dysregulation is another prominent aspect of borderline personality disorder, which usually leads to rapidly changing and intense emotions. This kind of emotional instability can often lead to hostility or aggression directed either at the patients themselves or other people. 

borderline personality disorder making people often being on edge
People with borderline personality disorder are often on edge. They have high distress and anger levels so that they may be easily offended.

Below is a quick exploration of the connection between aggression and emotional dysregulation in BPD together with ways for better management of the symptoms. 

Stress and Emotional Vulnerability 

People who have borderline personality disorder tend to be emotionally vulnerable. They might also find it difficult to tolerate stress. Every time they deal with challenging situations or scenarios, their emotional reactions escalate too fast, often leading to hostility or aggression. 

Fear of Abandonment

Another common aspect of BPD is the fear of abandonment, which can lead a person to interpret even the most minor misunderstandings or slights as some form of rejection. Such fear may end up triggering aggressive responses as a way of protecting themselves or in an attempt to gain better control over the situation. 

Aggression and Intense Emotions 

People who have BPD usually experience more intense emotions compared to others, which makes it harder for them to control the way they react to people, things, and situations. Such intense emotions may result in outbursts of aggression or anger that might become dangerous for relationships and the overall health and well-being of the person in question. 

Misinterpretation of Intentions of Other People 

Those who have BPD may also wrongly interpret the intentions of other people, often perceiving them as malicious or threatening because of their emotional sensitivity. This perception may result in defensive aggression that can further strain interpersonal relationships. 

Managing aggression and emotional dysregulation in BPD needs a multifaceted approach. These include self-help strategies, support from families and loved ones, and professional treatment. The following are among the most effective strategies that can be used:

Techniques for Emotional Regulation 

Learning how to pinpoint emotional triggers and implement suitable coping strategies like exercising, journaling, or seeking support from family and friends can help in better management of emotional dysregulation and lower the chances of aggressive outbursts. 

Setting Boundaries

Setting boundaries and clear communication with loved ones can also be a big help for people with borderline personality disorder. This will make them feel more secure in their relationships and reduce the possibility of aggression. 

Mindful Practices 

Engaging in mindfulness practices such as deep breathing exercises and meditation can help people with BPD improve their awareness of their emotions and allow them to respond more healthily. 


Mentalization-Based Therapy (MBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) are both backed by evidence. These are found to be helpful for people with BPD in terms of learning how to manage their emotions better and minimize their aggressive behaviors. 

YouTube video
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT is an evidence-based treatment for borderline personality disorder and other mood disorders, suicidal ideation, and behaviors such as self-harm.

Support from Family and Loved Ones 

Genuine emotional support from family, friends, and loved ones is critical to helping people with BPD in reducing aggression and managing their emotions. Open communication is recommended, as well as reassurance, to help the patients feel supported and understood.

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