Borderline personality disorder (BPD) and eating disorders are separate mental health conditions. However, while their symptoms and characteristics overlap, the effects can significantly impact an individual’s life differently.
In this post, we will unpack the three main eating disorders linked with borderline personality disorder and how you can seek appropriate treatment.
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Characterized by intense mood swings and a lack of emotional regulation, borderline personality disorder feeds into a number of other conditions, including eating disorders (more on this later).
With BPD, there is no gray area. Changes in mood and temperament can go from one extreme to the other, making it challenging for the person with the disorder, as well as those around them.
If not appropriately managed with an individualized treatment plan, BPD can impact your relationships with others – at home and work.
More importantly for this article, the disorder can also affect the way you view yourself, leading to an unhealthy relationship with your body.
This negative self-image is a fertile breeding ground for an eating disorder to set in. In an attempt to control their fluctuating emotions, BPD sufferers often turn to food (or other substances, such as alcohol and illegal drugs) to cope.
When you add the impulsiveness associated with BPD, the chances of developing an eating disorder increase.
The DSM-5 points to three primary eating disorders linked with borderline personality disorder. Let’s take a look at these.
For someone battling anorexia nervosa, an intense fear of weight gain drives their relationship with food and the essential act of eating.
It is common for someone with this mental health condition to have a skewed image of how they look. Often, they perceive themselves as overweight when they are not.
In turn, this affects the way they view nutrition. Some limit their calorie intake to minimize any form of weight gain. For others, they may avoid eating entirely.
The effect on the body in anorexia nervosa can be very harmful. Equally, it takes a significant toll on the sufferer’s mental health.
As a result of a negative perception of themselves and their bodies, those with bulimia nervosa use purging to control their weight.
Those with bulimia nervosa often take part in binge eating. After consumption, they then attempt to purge to get rid of the calories they just took in.
Purging is done either through self-induced vomiting, the use of laxatives or diuretics, or extreme methods of fasting, like not eating for days after consuming a large meal.
Bulimia nervosa sufferers often develop other problems related to their digestive system and reproductive health. Their skin, teeth, and nails may also be affected.
And, like other eating disorders, their mental health is severely compromised.
On the other end of the spectrum is binge eating disorder. Those with this condition are often overweight or obese, owing to their unhealthy relationship with food consumption.
Unlike the other eating disorders mentioned above, people with binge eating disorder do not do anything to prevent weight gain. Instead, they take part in binge eating episodes, where they eat faster than usual or eat more than they need to feel satisfied.
Physically, their bodies are put under continuous strain, and the condition can put them at risk for heart problems, diabetes, high cholesterol, and hypertension. It’s important to note that not everyone who is overweight or obese has a binge eating disorder. At the same time, not everyone who has the disease is overweight.
Borderline personality disorder and eating disorder feed into each other. This means that one disorder can promote another and vice versa. Both types of disorders are also related to emotional regulation.
Another feature they have in common is that treatment is essential for the health and well-being of patients. Often, dialectical behavior therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy are used to treat these mental health conditions.
Neurospa and our team of mental health professionals can help with eating disorders (through nutrition counseling) and borderline personality disorder (using talk therapy and several other methods). Contact us today to kickstart your journey to healing.
In times of crisis, your safety and well-being are of utmost importance. If you or someone you know is struggling with active thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please remember that help is available. Reach out to emergency services immediately by dialing 911, or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) for compassionate support, guidance, and resources. Remember, you are not alone, and there are people who care and want to help you through this difficult time.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive procedure that uses a magnetic field to stimulate nerve cells in the brain. This treatment has been found to be effective in treating a variety of conditions such as depression, anxiety, and chronic pain.