PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is a disorder in which the person relives a traumatic event. Complex PTSD is a psychological disorder that is linked to repetitive, prolonged traumatic incidents. The trauma involves harm and/or abandonment by a caregiver, such as a parent or family member, or an interpersonal relationship that has an unbalanced power dynamic. People sometimes associate PTSD with soldiers or veterans but it’s not just a disorder that affects this population. Many people experience trauma. What happens though is because people don’t typically believe that they have PTSD if they are unfamiliar with the variety of populations it affects. People with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) has similar symptoms to PTSD. Sometimes people are misdiagnosed with BPD and they actually have PTSD or Complex PTSD. Another tricky aspect of this is that the two disorders can occur comorbidly making it hard to tease out which one is which. Here’s more about Borderline:
Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is an illness that’s key characteristic is a difficulty with emotion regulation. People who live with BPD feel emotions intensely and for a long period of time. It can be difficult to return to a stable state after being triggered. People with BPD are often impulsive and have a poor sense of self. They have volatile and unstable relationships and difficulty maintaining their relationships for long periods of time. Sometimes people with BPD engage in self-destructive or dangerous behaviors such as self-harm. They can be sexually promiscuous and engage in risky sexual behavior such as unprotected sex. It’s estimated that 75 of the people diagnosed with BPD are women. However, the current studies suggest that men could be just as affected by BPD but are often misdiagnosed with other conditions such as PTSD or depression.
BPD and PTSD have overlapping similarities. People with BPD and PTSD are survivors of trauma. Many people with BPD typically have experienced trauma from a young age, while people with PTSD or Complex PTSD have either experienced trauma as children or as adults. The overlapping symptom here is exposure to trauma. Traumatic events can impact us and change our brains to react differently. When you are repeatedly exposed to trauma, your brain learns to be in a default state of “fight or flight.” It’s ready to defend you against potential harm. When you are triggered by something that reminds you of your trauma, your body, and your mind, are activated. You are ready to defend yourself against potential harm even if there actually isn’t anything that’s going to hurt you. Whether you have BPD or PTSD, both disorders can place you into a fight, flight or freeze state.
The right diagnosis is important
Getting the right diagnosis is so important. Once you know what your disorder is, you are able to get the right treatment plan. You might have PTSD or you might have BPD or you might possibly have both. The only way to know for sure is to see a mental health professional and get the proper diagnosis and care.