Under the Hood

Borderline Personality Disorder Sufferers 13 Times More Likely To Have Had Childhood Trauma

Childhood trauma is more problematic to people suffering with borderline personality disorder (BPD) than it is to those with other personality disorders and psychosis.This may come as a surprise to people who associate trauma solely with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but in fact BPD is synonymous with poor care and neglect in childhood.  

BPD affects 1.4 percent of the American population who deal with regulating emotional reactions to stressful events in their life as a result of accumulated stress from childhood. The main symptoms are intense fear of abandonment, inconsistent self-image, unstable relationships and impulse control, stemming potentially from unresolved trauma in some cases. 

Researchers at the University of Manchester in the U.K. performed a meta-analysis of 97 studies and identified 42 of them as relevant to the purpose of the study. The large-scale analysis included a variety of participants including 11,366 people with BPD and 3,732 people in good psychological health.

They were then compared to 13,128 participants with several other personality disorders and even those with psychosis, reported Medical News Today.

What The Study Said

The paper titled “Childhood adversity and borderline personality disorder: a meta‐analysis” was published in the journal Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavia on October 19. Lead author Filippo Varese, who works at the Division of Psychology and Mental Health at the University of Manchester, along with his colleagues found that BPD patients had 13.91 more chances of having suffered childhood trauma. This was in comparison to people who did not have any psychological problems whatsoever. 

Furthermore, when these numbers were compared to epidemiological and prospective cohort studies, the chances had reduced tenfold. Therefore, as per the revised calculations, BPD sufferers had 3.15 times more chances of reporting childhood trauma than those people who had other psychiatric conditions. 

Finally, when the researchers broke down the findings while looking at specific symptoms, the following statistics were uncovered: 

  • 71 percent of people with BPD admitted they had gone through at least one traumatic experience in childhood. 
  • 48.9 percent with BPD said they were physically neglected in childhood.
  • 42.5 percent were subjected to emotional abuse.
  • 36.4 percent said they were victims of physical abuse and 32 percent of sexual abuse. 
  • 25.3 percent reported feeling emotionally neglected while growing up.

"We found a strong link between childhood trauma and BPD, which is particularly large when emotional abuse and neglect was involved," Varese said. "We hope these findings underline the importance of trauma-informed care for people accessing mental health services, where prevalence rates of BPD are high."

"But further research is needed to explore the complex factors also likely to be involved such as biology, experiences in later life, and psychological processes," Varese concluded. 

Childhood trauma People with BPD are three times more likely to suffer from childhood trauma compared to people with other psychiatric issues. Fatih Saribas/Reuters

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