By Ana Sandoiu
A new meta-analysis of existing studies has revealed that people with borderline personality disorder (BPD) are much more likely to report childhood adversity than those without the condition.
Childhood trauma is also associated with BPD more than it is with other similar psychiatric conditions, according to the study.
People with BPD may have trouble regulating their emotions, self-perceptions, and thoughts.
Impulsiveness and reckless behavior are also common characteristics of the condition, as is an inability to maintain stable relationships with other people. Self-harm and suicidal ideation are also common.
Some forms of psychotherapy and mood-stabilizing medication have proven effective in treating and managing BPD, though there is currently no cure for the condition.
BPD symptoms tend to appear in early adulthood, peak in young adulthood and improve with time.
The medical community does not yet know what causes BPD. As with most conditions, healthcare professionals believe that a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental influences plays a role.
Previous studies have found links between early-life trauma and the chance of developing BPD. Specifically, research has linked experiences of abuse, abandonment, extreme adversity, violence, or conflict in one’s family life to BPD.
However, new research in the journal Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavia looks deeper into this link and finds that it may be stronger than researchers previously believed.
Over 71% of those with BPD had trauma
Researchers led by Filippo Varese, from the Division of Psychology and Mental Health at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, reviewed 97 existing studies.
In total, these studies involved 11,366 participants with BPD, 3,732 people with no psychiatric conditions, and 13,128 people with other psychiatric conditions.
Of these studies, 42 contained relevant statistical information that the researchers would use to study the link between childhood trauma and BPD.
The researchers’ analysis found that people with BPD were 13.91 times more likely to report childhood trauma than controls who did not have BPD. This effect diminished slightly when the team included epidemiological and retrospective cohort studies.
Compared with other psychiatric conditions — including mood disorders, psychosis, and other personality disorders — people with BPD were 3.15 times more likely to report traumatic experiences in their childhood.
More specificially, 48.9% of people with BPD reported physical neglect in their childhood, 42.5% reported a history of emotional abuse, 36.4% reported physical abuse, 32.1% reported sexual abuse, and 25.3% reported emotional neglect.
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