Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental health condition noted for its prevalence among women. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition indicates that 75 percent of BPD cases are diagnosed in females. For this reason, men struggling with BPD are often misdiagnosed and undertreated. As author and researcher Randi Kreger explains, “Most therapists are clueless that men also have BPD even though the most conservative estimates say in four BPD sufferers is male.” The National Institutes of Health (NIH) supports this statistic, reporting that approximately 75 percent of individuals diagnosed with BPD are female. This is partially due to the fact that the disorder presents itself differently in males than in females. The stigma and lack of understanding surrounding this reality makes its true prevalence in the male population unknown.
Males with BPD express different symptoms than those presented by females with the disorder. For instance, males are more likely to exhibit “explosive temperament” issues and co-occurring disorders, including antisocial personality or narcissistic personality. While women with BPD often develop eating disorders, men are more likely to struggle with substance abuse and self-medication. However, basic insecurities, anxiety, self-loathing and unhealthy use of sexual relationships are common among all individuals struggling with BPD. Sex is often used in this population to gain temporary relief from insecurities. The overall differences between men and women with BPD are distinct enough to affect the entire diagnosis and treatment process. As Kreger notes, “Gender matters in almost everything borderline, from the failure of clinicians to identify it in men to the failure of researchers to study how it affects men differently and the treatment implications of those dissimilarities.”
If a proper diagnosis of BPD is made, men “might wish they could cast off their insecurity and move on,” states Dr. Joseph Nowinski, who specializes in BPD. He continues, “The reality is that a more realistic goal is to acknowledge that it exists, recognize where it is coming from and then learn ways to mitigate it so that it doesn’t make you miserable or contaminate your relationships.” Dr. Nowinski’s note on how BPD affects interpersonal relationships is significant, as relationships are often tumultuous and unstable for individuals with the disorder. The self-awareness and development of coping skills he proposes is often available through inpatient or outpatient treatment.
If you or a loved one is struggling with BPD, help is available. Call the California Mental Health helpline today at 855-559-3923 to speak with a professional and find out more about the treatment centers in your area.