According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 1.6% of adults in America have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and 75% of individuals diagnosed are women.
BPD is a mental health disorder in which an individual finds it difficult to regulate their emotions and subsequently engages in maladaptive and reckless coping behaviors such as suicide attempts, cutting, and substance abuse. Those living with BPD often wonder if it was inherited and if they should worry about passing it down to their children.
Both Genetics and Environment Play a Part
Mental illnesses, in general, are believed to be produced by a variety of environmental and genetic factors. Like many mental illnesses, BPD is more common in individuals who have blood relatives with mental illness.
Therefore, if a close family member suffers from BPD, you or your children may also be at risk. If you’re curious, take a look at your family history. Because you share 50% of your genes with a first-degree relative (mother, father, sibling), you are five times at greater risk to develop BPD if they have it, too. Yet the verdict is still out about how much of the disorder is influenced by genetics and how much is produced by environment.
The good news is, there are ways to reduce the risk of passing BPD down to your children. Since environment also plays a major part in developing BPD, there is a great deal you can do to control whether or not your children develop the disorder.
Child abuse or neglect, lying and manipulation, and chaos in general are more prevalent in families whose members have BPD. Seeking treatment for your BPD is one of the best ways to lower your chances of passing the disorder onto your children.
Patients with BPD who undergo effective treatment for their borderline personality disorder can significantly improve. Getting help means reducing your symptoms, which can ultimately make you better equipped to be an effective and more nurturing parent.
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If you are at all worried about how your BPD effects your parenting, you can talk to a therapist about it. They may have you take notes on your home environment so they can better evaluate and offer solutions to provide a more nurturing environment for your children.
Although it is difficult to effectively parent when struggling with your own BPD symptoms, the more you can be a good role model for your children, the less likely they are to develop the disorder, regardless of whether or not they have genes with BPD.
Understanding the Influence of Genetics
Studies indicate that those living with BPD use serotonin differently due to a variation in their genes. Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter believed to regulate a variety of human behaviors including mood, memory, social behavior, appetite, sleep, and sexual desire. Those with this specific variation of serotonin have increased chances of developing BPD if they experience certain difficult events in their childhood.
One particular study showed that both monkeys with the serotonin gene variation and those taken from their mother and raised in poor nurturing environments developed symptoms that resembled BPD.
This may explain the negative effects of neglect and abandonment on a developing child with BPD in their genetics. Several more studies have revealed that people with BPD have distinct differences in both brain function and the actual structure of their brain.
The same studies show that BPD is connected with disproportionate activity in the parts of the brain that control a person’s understanding of experience and their expression of emotion. Because those with BPD have greater stimulation of the limbic system, they may show greater emotional instability than those without BPD. The limbic system controls anger, aggression, and fear.
BPD Is Not Your Fault
Those with BPD may feel as though they are responsible for suffering from this mental illness. It is absolutely not true. If you suffer from BPD, you most likely have a genetic predisposition to develop this type of mental health disorder. Perhaps you were raised in an unstable environment and experienced the types of events that are likely to trigger those with BPD in their genetics. Losing a loved one, a tragic event, or being abused are all potential factors for increasing a person’s chance of developing the disorder.
Don’t Wait, Seek Treatment Now
You deserve to live the best life possible. If you’re struggling with BPD, seeking professional treatment can greatly improve your well being and quality of life. If you are a parent with BPD and are concerned about your children, this is one of the best ways to ensure the environment you provide your children reduces their risk of developing BPD.