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Borderline personality disorder, or BPD, is a complex mental health disorder. The key features of BPD include impulsivity, low self-esteem, fear of abandonment, and emotional instability. Another characteristic of BPD is inappropriate expressions of anger or rage. It is this feature that we will focus on, in hopes of providing new insights and coping techniques for those who struggle with BPD rage.
What is BPD Rage?
Individuals with BPD suffer from hypersensitivity, which can result in an unstable mood. They may perceive a supposed slight from someone and then lash out at the person in a fit of rage. The rage can emerge without warning and then dissipate just as quickly.
These displays of anger and rage place a great strain on relationships, which hinders their ability to sustain them. The target of the rage, finds themselves wondering what they did wrong to elicit such an outburst of anger. At some point, the person may end the relationship due to verbal or physical abuse.
It is believed that the BPD rage attacks are an extension of self-perception at any given time. When the individual experiences an idealized view of self, with features of grandiosity and narcissism, they may lash out in rage if someone dares to criticize or question them. During an episode of self-loathing, the individual sees themselves as worthless and may engage in self-harming behaviors or even a suicide attempt.
What Are the Strategies for Managing BPD Rage?
At the center of the BPD rage is poor emotional regulation. The individual is unable to control an impulsive urge to lash out at someone they believe has wronged them. This stems from a fragile ego a low sense of self-worth and an inability to manage impulse control. Thus, when triggered by perceived wrongdoing, the person will exhibit explosive reactions.
Consider these tips for managing BPD rage:
- Know Your Triggers. The first step is to make a list of your known anger triggers. These may be a fear of being alone, abandoned, or left out. It could be a fear of rejection that sets you off. Identify the top triggers so you will be more aware when encountering them, and can take preemptive measures to ward off anger.
- Note the Warning Signs. Rage is a strong emotion. There are usually telltale signs of anger or rage bubbling up – such as feeling sweaty and hot, your muscles tightening, and a clenched jaw. Upon noticing the signs, you can take steps to calm down before a BPD rage episode kicks in.
- Take a Pause. This step takes discipline and practice, but it can help you avoid flying off the handle into a BPD rage. Right when you feel the urge to lash out, stop and count to ten in your head. Taking this little pause may be all it takes to diffuse the situation.
- Engage in Relaxation Techniques. When you sense some rage coming on, take a minute or two to engage in something that will calm you down. This may be deep breathing techniques, progressive muscle relaxation, grounding activities, or mindfulness.
- Find a Distraction. When you find yourself hyper-focused on perceived wrongdoing, switch your mind to something else, something that requires extended attention. This might be starting a home improvement project, engaging in artistic activities, or sitting down with a romance novel.
- Work out. Nothing is better at diffusing anger than physical exertion. Find two or three enjoyable activities that you can turn to on a regular basis to help maintain better mental health in general, and to help reduce stress in the moment. When we are active our body produces endorphins that boost our mood, and neurotransmitters that reduce the effects of stress.
How Long Does BPD Anger Last?
BPD anger may be ignited by actual harm or triggered by an imagined one. One classic feature of BPD rage is that the episodes tend to be short-lived. The outbursts may erupt rapidly with no forewarning. But then, just as swiftly, the mood can shift to an upbeat, happy one.
In most cases, a BPD rage attack may last for a few minutes. Rage blackouts and extreme borderline rage are likely to last longer. These more severe fits of rage may linger for a few days, depending on the individual.
What Are the BPD Anger Triggers?
Keeping in mind that those with BPD struggle with black or white thinking helps explain why they may be so extreme in their reactions. To them, something is either right or wrong, good or bad, and there is no gray area.
Borderline rage has several common triggers. These include:
- Fear of being rejected. When someone with BPD fears they will be rejected it may trigger a deep sense of rage, as in “How dare you reject me!”
- Fear of abandonment. With a very fragile sense of self-worth, any hint of someone possibly abandoning them can bring on a BPD rage attack.
- Past trauma triggers. BPD rage can be triggered in someone with a history of abuse or trauma when they encounter a place, person, or thing that reminds them of the event.
- Stressful or frustrating situations. A highly stressful situation can cause a loss of emotional control and bring about BPD rage.
- Being criticized or ridiculed. Due to low self-esteem and poor emotional regulation, individuals with BPD are highly sensitive to criticism and may even become violent.
How to Treat Rage in BPD
Treatment for BPD rage is determined by the severity of the episodes. For instance, BPD psychotic rage or a BPD rage blackout indicate more severe forms of this disorder. Severity helps determine the appropriate level of care and treatment protocols.
Once the individual is evaluated, a customized treatment plan is devised to help them better manage the BPD in general, and specifically the rage. There are outpatient treatment options and residential treatment available. For moderate to severe BPD rage cases, the residential treatment setting is most appropriate.
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy.
- Schema-Focused Therapy.
- Transference-Focused Therapy.
- Mentalization-Based Therapy
- Group therapy.
- Family therapy.
- Holistic activities.
- Nutrition and fitness.
Despite the complexities of BPD, it is treatable. Interventions that place treatment emphasis on emotion regulation will increase the chances for a positive clinical outcome.
Elevation Behavioral Health Provides Comprehensive Residential Psychiatric Care
Elevation Behavioral Health offers a place to heal in our beautiful private estate. Our esteemed clinical team provides the most effective treatment modalities to help you better manage the effects of BPD rage. If you are experiencing BPD anger issues and need a more focused approach to treatment, please reach out today at (888) 561-0868.