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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Are borderline personality disorder, depression and PTSD interrelated?

    Whats the difference between BPD, Depression & PTSD, I am a tad confused, and do they tend to all be interrelated.
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  • 1


    Dr Joanne Dennison

    Counselling Psychologist, Counsellor, Psychologist, Psychotherapist

    Dennison Psychology is a private psychology practice, with a location in South Yarra (Melbourne). Appointments are available on weekdays (appointments available from early mornings through … View Profile

    Whilst it is possible to have all three of these disorders, they are distinct disorders. Oftentimes, when people meet the diagnostic criteria for a disorder they are statistically more likely to meet the criteria for another disorder than someone who has not been diagnosed with any mental health disorder.

    The three disorders you are enquiring about differ in that

    PTSD is considered an anxiety disorder that is developed as a direct result of experiencing a significantly traumatic life event (such a witnessing the risk of another or yourself dying, or being sexually assaulted). There are a variety of potential symptoms, including but not limited to, problems sleeping, hyper-vigilance, and avoidance of places or things that were associated with the traumatic event.

    Depression is a mood disorder. It is characterized by low mood and a loss of enjoyment of everyday activities, low motivation to engage in everyday activities, a sense of hopelessness about one's life and future, and disrupted sleep (sleeping more or less as a result of it).

    Borderline personality disorder tends to present in those who have experienced tumultuous caregiving when growing up, as this leads to a fractured sense of self and a generally insecure attachment style. Individuals with borderline personality disorder are more likely to have experienced a traumatic event (due to someone else's actions) whilst they were growing up. It can be accompanied with feelings of emptiness, and broken/unstable relationships with others.

    Research has found all three disorders (PTSD, borderline pd and depression) respond to psychological treatment. Psychological treatment is likely to take some time to achieve positive outcomes, due to the nature of borderline pd, but it is very much possible. You could speak to a psychologist regarding your treatment options - oftentimes, those with borderline pd benefit from attending group therapy for the disorder, alongside individual therapy.

  • 2


    Michael Guy

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    I am a clinical and coaching psychologist ( with over 15 years of professional experience. Recognized qualifications and lots of experience to give me skills … View Profile

    People with borderline personality traits tend to be more sensitive and have heightened emotional responses.  When they experience trauma the reactions will therefore tend to be stronger increasing the chance they will develop PTSD.  Treatment for PTSD now often including ideas from treatments for borderline traits including strategies to cope with emotion.  

    In the past there has been many who thought trauma led to borderline traits where now it is seen as part of its development rather than the whole explanation.  Trauma makes anyone's life more difficult but for those with borderline traits this is more the case.

    Depression is often seen in those with PTSD.  I describe this to clients as being a result of exhaustion.  The PTSD causes anxiety, the anxiety results in exhaustion (for instance from lack of sleep) and the exhaustion is experienced as depression.  It is therefore important to treat the originating trauma so the sleep normalises so the exhaustion reduces and then more joy comes into the client's life.

    Depression is also often seen in those with borderline traits.  I use a similar story as above.  All the emotion causes exhaustion.  Learning to cope and accept emotion leads to less exhaustion and more joy.

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