Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a common mental illness characterised by difficulties with emotions, impulses, interpersonal relationships and self-image/identity. In South Australia, the exact number of people living with BPD is unknown but is likely to be at least 68,000 (approximately 4% of the population) or possibly higher.

People with BPD can experience significant distress and impairment due to difficulties in relating to other people and to the world around them. BPD is associated with disruption to relationships, work life and social problems. It is highly stigmatised among health and mental health professionals and is also associated with ‘self-stigma’. BPD is associated with severe and persistent impairment of the capacity to work and to engage in sustainable, satisfying relationships; high risk for self-harm and suicide; significant burden of co-existing mental health illnesses (co-morbidities), and heavy use of healthcare resources.


Symptoms of BPD typically emerge during adolescence and early adulthood and affect men and women in similar numbers. Spontaneous improvement of BPD symptoms is common as people age, but treatment accelerates the speed of improvement and good treatment leads to even faster remission.

There is increasing evidence regarding the negative impact of BPD on physical health, with increased risks of many major physical illnesses with BPD, including cardiovascular diseases, arthritis and obesity. Life expectancy in this regard has been shown to be reduced significantly.

Even when acute symptoms of BPD improve, significant continuing disability in work and relationships can remain, which is comparable to or greater than that associated with many of the major mental illnesses.


To find out what services BPD Co can offer to people living with BPD, visit the Services page.

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