How is Emotion Regulation Experienced by Those with Borderline Personality Disorder?

Highest Standards, Nationally Recognized:

woman raging

More than 4 million people in the United States have borderline personality disorder (BPD), a disorder characterized by intense emotions experienced for extended periods of time. BPD makes it difficult for a person to achieve stability after an emotionally triggering event; this difficulty can lead to impulsivity, poor self-image, rocky relationships and dangerous self-harming behaviors. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 75% of those with BPD are women. In whole, BPD is associated with difficulties in regulating emotion. What is emotion regulation?

Emotion regulation is a complex combination of ways in which a person relates to and acts upon their emotional experiences. This may involve one’s ability to understand and accept their emotions, one’s ability to cope with uncomfortable emotions, and one’s ability to engage in appropriate behaviors when they’re distressed. Individuals who do not have difficulty with emotion regulation are able to – for example – remain calm even in a distressing situation, whereas someone with BPD may self-harm or engage in reckless behavior when upset.

A 2015 study conducted by researchers from the University of Missouri identified 4 main components to emotion dysregulation that those with BPD experience:

    1. Emotion sensitivity – heightened emotional reactivity, mainly associated with negative emotional states such as anger, fear, or sadness.


  • Heightened and labile negative affect – often due to emotion sensitivity, individuals with BPD may experience situations in a much more intense and negative perspective, with extreme changes of mood and environmental triggers causing these changes as well.
  • Deficit of appropriate regulation strategies – many people with BPD aren’t able to adequately manage their negative emotions, often exhibiting a lower emotional awareness. In addition, many with BPD view their emotions and other situations in polarity – as an “all or nothing” affect.
  • Surplus of maladaptive regulation strategies – in an attempt to deal with negative emotions, people with BPD may employ tactics such as rumination, thought suppression, avoidance, and self-injurious behaviors. These behaviors, however, often worsen the symptoms of negative affect rather than diminish them.


If you have BPD, seek out a reputable treatment program today because there are many tools that you can develop to help you better understand and manage your emotions. Psychotherapy for BPD often includes dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and psychodynamic psychotherapy, while medications may also be prescribed to help you gain clarity while you move forward in your recovery. Don’t wait any longer to seek the help you need today.

Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery center. If you are ready to seek treatment to develop the tools you need to overcome life’s obstacles and be on the road towards happiness, health, and well-being, call us today at 888-958-7511 for a consultation. It’s never too late, and there are people here ready to help you.

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