Borderline Personality Disorder Statistics

Borderline Personality Disorder is More Common Than You Think

An image depicting personality disorder.
An image depicting personality disorder.. Mads Perch/Getty Images

If you have been recently diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD), you may feel overwhelmed, scared and alone. But BPD is much more common than you probably think. Learning the facts about the disorder, including prevalence statistics, can help you feel more empowered to seek help through therapy and support groups. Here are some relevant BPD facts and figures.

Borderline Personality Disorder Statistics on Prevalence

In the United States, recent research has shown that 1.6% of the population has BPD.

That number may seem small, but when you consider just how large the United States is, you may realize that 1.6% represents quite a large number of people. That percentage means that over four million people have BPD in America alone. Whole BPD is not as well known as other disorders, it is actually more common that illnesses like schizophrenia.

Gender Differences in BPD

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 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, women may be more likely to pursue treatment or that there are gender biases when it comes to diagnosis. For instance, men with symptoms of BPD may be more likely to be misdiagnosed with another condition like post-traumatic stress disorder or major depressive disorder.

BPD Suicidality Statistics

Some of the most sobering borderline personality disorder statistics come from the research literature on BPD and suicidality. About 70% of people with BPD will make at least one suicide attempt in their lifetimes. 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.

Why these rates are so high is currently unknown. It may because people with BPD don't know where to turn for treatment or are misdiagnosed and not treated appropriately.

BPD and Misdiagnosis

While 1.6% is the recorded percentage of people with BPD, the actual prevalence may be even higher. In a recent study, over 40% of people with BPD had been previously misdiagnosed with other disorders like bipolar disorder or major depressive disorder. These illnesses are often cited, potentially because they are more well known and more easily treated with medications than borderline personality disorder.

It's also common for those with BPD to have comorbidities, or other illnesses along with BPD. In fact, as many as 20% of people with BPD have also been found to have bipolar disorder, making their diagnosis and treatment more complicated than treating one disease.

Statistics on Prognosis

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.

Sources:

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.

American Psychiatric Association. "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illnesses-5th edition", 2013.

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.

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