Many people feel confused and overwhelmed when first diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). Learning the facts about the disorder, including borderline personality disorder statistics, can help you feel more empowered to seek help. Here are some relevant BPD facts and figures.
Just how common is BPD? Far more common than you might think. While many disorders have gained widespread media attention (for example, many in the mainstream media have decried an "autism epidemic"), BPD has remained relatively unknown. However, researchers estimate that about 1.4% of the population has BPD -- that's about 1 in every 150 people (similar to current estimates of autism rates).
Women are far more likely to be diagnosed with BPD than men. In fact, about 75% of people diagnosed with BPD are women (that's a ratio of 3 women to every 1 man diagnosed with BPD). Researchers do not know why there is this gender difference -- it may be that women are more prone to BPD, or it may be that there are biases in the ways that BPD is diagnosed (e.g., men with BPD may be more likely to be given a diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder).
Some of the most sobering borderline personality disorder statistics come from the research literature on BPD and suicidality. About 70 percent of people with BPD will make at least one suicide attempt in their lifetime. In addition, between 8 and 10 percent of people with BPD will complete suicide; this rate is more than 50 times the rate of suicide in the general population.
Now for the good news -- while BPD is a serious mental illness, it is by no means a life sentence. Research has shown that the prognosis for BPD is actually not as bad at once thought. Almost half of people who are diagnosed with BPD will not meet the criteria for diagnosis just two years later. Ten years later, 88 percent of people who were once diagnosed with BPD no longer meet criteria for a diagnosis.
Amarine, MC, Frankenburg, FR, Hensen, J, Reich, DB, and Silk, KR. "Predictions of the 10-year course of borderline personality disorder." American Journal of Psychiatry, 163:827-832, 2006.
Lenzenweger, MF, Lane, MC, Loranger, AW, and Kessler, RC. "DSM-IV Personality Disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication." Biological Psychiatry, 62: 553-654, September 2007.
Widiger, T. "Invited Essay: Sex Biases in the Diagnosis of Personality Disorders." Journal of Personality Disorders, 12:95-118, 1998.
Work Group on Borderline Personality Disorder. "Practice Guidelines for the Treatment of Patients with Borderline Personality Disorder." American Journal of Psychiatry, 158:1-52.