What causes BPD?

What causes BPD?

There’s no clear reason why some people develop BPD. More women are diagnosed with BPD than men, but it can affect people of all genders and backgrounds. However, most researchers think that BPD is caused by a combination of factors, such as:

  • difficult childhood and teenage experiences
  • genetic factors
  • your personality in general

Also, if you already experience some BPD symptoms, then going through a stressful time as an adult could make your symptoms worse. (See our pages on how to manage stressfor tips on coping with stress.)

How could childhood experiences cause BPD?

It’s not clear what causes BPD, but if you get this diagnosis you’re more likely than most people to have had very difficult or traumatic experiences growing up, such as:

  • chronic fear or distress
  • family instability, such as living with a parent who is an alcoholic, or who struggles to manage a mental health problem
  • sexual or physical abuse
  • neglect
  • losing a parent

If you had difficult childhood experiences like these, you might have developed certain beliefs about how people think and how relationships work, and developed certain strategies for coping, which aren’t helpful in your adult life. You might also still be struggling with feelings of anger, fear or sadness.

Could BPD be genetic?

Some evidence suggests that there might be a genetic cause of BPD, because if someone in your close family has a mental health problem you might be more likely to get this diagnosis.

However, because most people grow up with one or both of their biological parents, it’s very hard to know if symptoms of BPD – like problems with relationships or coping with strong emotions – are inherited from your parents’ genes or picked up from their behaviour. Children tend to learn how to behave by observing the people around them, so if you grew up around a parent with BPD, you might have learned some unhelpful ways of acting and feeling from them.

Taken from the Mind website



  1. […] This week I’m going to talk about the ‘Bio’ bit in the biosocial theory. (I will do a separate post for the social bit) The ‘bio’ bit is the biological part of the theory and the social bit is the social part of the theory. Together they make one of Marsha‘s main theories on why and how some people develop borderline personality disorder. […]


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