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Borderline Personality Disorder and Physical Health

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Updated April 11, 2008

Borderline Personality Disorder and Physical Health
(c)2008 istockphoto.com/photoGartner

BPD does not only have an impact on your mental health. People with BPD are more likely to report a variety of physical health problems, and are more likely to need to be hospitalized for medical reasons, than those without BPD. Below are some of the physical health problems that have been associated with BPD. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to improve your health.

Physical Health Problems Associated with BPD:


Health-Related Lifestyle Issues

BPD is also associated with less healthy lifestyle choices. For example, people with BPD are more likely to report pack per day smoking, daily alcohol consumption, lack of regular exercise, daily use of sleep medications, and daily use of pain medications.

There are a few reasons why this association between BPD and poorer health behaviors exists. First, experiencing a lot of negative emotions may lead people with BPD to feel less motivated to do positive things for themselves. Also, they may use substances like nicotine and alcohol to try to feel better.

What Does this Mean For Your Health?

Unfortunately, we don't yet know exactly why BPD is associated with health problems. One possibility is that the symptoms of the disorder lead people to make poorer lifestyle choices. Another possibility is that the same things that cause BPD (e.g., genetics, exposure to stressful events) also cause some health problems. Most likely, the link between BPD and physical health is complex, and more research is needed to fully understand the connection.

However, there are still things you can do to improve your health. Paying attention to your health-related lifestyle choices and making changes to unhealthy behaviors (e.g., quitting smoking) can help. Also, research has shown that people who once had BPD but no longer meet criteria for the disorder are less likely to report health concerns. It may be that getting treatment for BPD symptoms could also improve your physical health.

Sources:

Frankenburg, F, and Zanarini, MC. "The Association Between Borderline Personality Disorder and Chronic Medical Illnesses, Poor Health-Related Lifestyle Choices, and Costly Forms of Health Care Utilization." Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 65: 1660-1665, December 2004.

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