Borderline personality disorder, or BPD, is a mental health disorder that affects how you feel about yourself and others and how you behave. This disorder is characterized by heightened emotions and extreme mood swings, self-image and abandonment issues, impulsive behaviors, and a pattern of unstable relationships.
The difficulty that someone with BPD experiences with managing their intense emotions and behaviors makes it difficult for them to function daily. But what about the physical impact of borderline personality disorder? It’s easier to notice and focus on the mental and emotional effects of BPD, but because the mind is so closely linked with the body, many people with this disorder also experience uncomfortable physical symptoms. In many cases, the physical body impact results from an individuals’ co-occurring depression or anxiety.
Rashes or Worsened Skin Conditions
Borderline personality disorder can cause intense irritability and periods of stress, which increases the body’s production of stress hormones, including cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine. This over-production of cortisol suppresses your immune system, which causes or worsens skin conditions such as eczema or other rashes due to skin inflammation. The increased stress levels caused by BPD can lead to hives and bothersome itching and stinging sensations.
Gut and Digestive Issues
Mental illness and emotions, including anxiety, sadness, anger, and excitement, can trigger symptoms in the gut because your gastrointestinal tract is sensitive to these feelings. Your gut can send signals to your brain and vice versa. An anxious mind impacts digestive functioning, causing intestinal distress that can exacerbate your mental and emotional symptoms as well.
Suppose you have a disorder like BPD where your emotions are constantly fluctuating. In that case, the state of your gut will likely fluctuate as well, contributing to altered bowel habits like constipation or diarrhea. When you over-stress due to BPD, your body becomes more susceptible to stomach ulcers because stress can deplete the substances that usually help protect you from the harmful effects of acid.
Sensory Block due to Dissociation
Dissociation is a mental process that involves a disconnection between one’s memories, feelings, thoughts, actions, surroundings, or sense of identity. Dissociation is a common symptom of BPD. When it occurs, this involuntary detachment from reality can impact your senses, contributing to hearing blockages or a loss of peripheral vision (tunnel vision). Dissociation can affect perception and contribute to memory loss, making it difficult for individuals who commonly experience dissociation with BPD to function in daily life. This disconnect from reality can also be triggered and exacerbated by stress, making it harder to cope with your emotional stress or any co-occurring mental illnesses.
If you live with borderline personality disorder, it is essential to be aware that any adverse physical symptoms you experience are likely a result of your heightened emotional extremes, which can have a serious impact on your body over time. If you do experience any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor or mental health provider to help determine if your physical symptoms are related to your mental health disorder.