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Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental illness characterized by pervasive instability in moods, interpersonal relationships, self-image, and behavior. This instability often disrupts family and work life, long-term planning, and the individual's sense of self-identity. Originally thought to be at the "borderline" of psychosis, people with BPD suffer from a disorder of emotion regulation. While less well known than schizophrenia or bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), BPD is more common, affecting 2 percent of adults, mostly young women. There is a high rate of self-injury without suicide intent, as well as a significant rate of suicide attempts and completed suicide in severe cases. Patients often need extensive mental health services, and account for 20 percent of psychiatric hospitalizations
The frequency in women is two to three times greater than men. This may be related to genetic or hormonal influences. An association between this disorder and severe cases of premenstrual tension has been postulated. Women commonly suffer from depression more often than men. The increased frequency of borderline disorders among women may also be a consequence of the greater incidence of incestuous experiences during their childhood. This is believed to occur ten times more often in women than in men, with estimates running to up to one-fourth of all women.