Intense and sometimes inappropriate rage is a characteristic of borderline personality disorder (BPD). An individual with this mental health condition has difficulty regulating their emotions or returning to their baseline, which can include frustration-induced anger and even rage blackouts.
Borderline personality disorder is a deeply misunderstood disorder. People who have this disorder may be labeled manipulative, selfish, or clingy. Psychologist Marsha Linehan, who developed dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) specifically to treat women with BPD, compares a person with BPD to a person with third-degree burns over 90% of their body. Due to their “thin emotional skin”, the slightest touch can cause extreme agony.
Emotional Dysregulation and Intense Anger: Characteristics of BPD
Emotional dysregulation is the hallmark of borderline personality disorder. This mental health disorder impacts the way a person thinks and feels about themselves and others. This leads to difficulty managing emotions and behaviors and can lead to a pattern of unstable relationships.
Usually developing in early adolescence, an individual with borderline personality disorder has an overwhelming and intense fear of abandonment and may go to extremes to try to avoid separation, which may be real or imagined. Other people and situations are viewed in black-and-white terms as either all good or all bad. Seemingly minor disappointments or experiences can set off wide mood swings and borderline rage and may also lead to self-harm or suicidal threats.
How Long Does BPD Anger Last?
Extreme borderline rage and rage blackouts may last longer than might be expected, from a few hours to even a few days. However, it’s important to note that the severity, frequency, and duration of symptoms depend on each individual and their illness.
BPD Anger Triggers
Anger that is intense, uncontrolled, or inappropriate can be a devastating symptom for someone struggling with borderline personality disorder. They may be driven by a desire to be connected to others, yet loss of emotional control frequently drives others away. In some cases, the level of rage can lead to violence.
Rage in an individual with BPD can occur suddenly and unpredictably. BPD anger triggers can include an intense fear of being alone. Two other BPD anger triggers include a fear of rejection and quickly changing views. Since an individual with borderline personality disorder views things and people as either extremely good or extremely bad, their opinion of someone can quickly change from a friend to an enemy.
How Can I Stop A BPD Episode?
If you or a loved one suffer from borderline personality disorder, there are several different ways to cope with the symptoms that can trigger a BPD episode, including:
- Listen to relaxing music
- Exercise – do some yoga or take a long walk
- Find support with a loved one or a friend
- Practice mindfulness – meditate and breathe deeply
Although the chosen coping mechanisms may not completely stop a BPD episode, they may be helpful in lessening the severity of the episode.
Treating Rage in BPD
Borderline personality disorder was once thought of as a condition that’s very difficult to treat, but evidence-based therapies can help people reduce their symptoms (including frustration-induced anger) and improve their quality of life. Various types of individual and group therapy can help a person with BPD learn to manage rage and other emotions that feel uncomfortable as well as reduce impulsivity. Therapy can also help individuals with BPD realize that it’s possible to observe their feelings rather than act on them.
Types of therapy that are successful in treating BPD rage include:
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): DBT consists of both group and individual sessions with the goals of helping people regulate their emotions, have more successful interpersonal relationships, increase their distress tolerance, and be more mindful of thoughts, feelings, and their environment.
- Schema-Focused Therapy: This type of psychotherapy helps individuals shed their life views that aren’t working and replace them with healthier behaviors and positive life patterns. Activities include role-playing, guided imagery, and assertiveness training.
- Transference–Focused Psychotherapy: This therapy works toward helping individuals integrate their views of themselves and others and has been found to significantly reduce anger.
- Mentalization-Based Therapy: This form of therapy helps a person with BPD separate their thoughts and feelings from the people around them. It emphasizes the importance of thinking before reacting.
These and other forms of treatment can help a person with BPD experience less intense rage and other symptoms. With treatment, a person with BPD can gain control of their out-of-control emotions and improve their ability to function.
If you or a loved one are struggling with borderline personality disorder or anger issues, we’re here to help. At Clearview, we offer several treatment programs and have experience with and expertise in treating borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder. Our treatment programs include our Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center, our Women’s Treatment Center, and our outpatient treatment centers.