Disabilities are more commonly related to physical impairment. Mental health disorders are often more difficult to prove as a disability. However, modern legislation and institutions are moving forward towards giving people with mental health disorders like Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) with better consideration for disability benefits.
Borderline Personality Disorder is often not considered a disability. However, certain degrees of BPD and the extent of symptoms can make the mental health condition disabling enough to be considered by social security institutions as a disability.
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What is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)?
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is characterized by the disruption of normal personality activities and functions, mainly through abnormal and erratic mood instability. This often leads to interrupted personal and professional relationships and frequently changing self-image.
The primary cause of BPD is still unknown today. However, it often manifests during the adolescent to early adulthood stage, specifically 18 years old and above.
However, factors for the development of BPD include environment and history of abuse inside the household, genetics, hormonal imbalances, and brain abnormalities.
People with BPD may experience other mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, ADHD, bipolar and eating disorder, and substance abuse. This can lead to the inability of an individual to maintain employment and to fulfill personal relationships. Some people with BPD can also face multiple legal problems due to their inability to abide by social norms. They are also prone to have abusive relationships and perform aggressive activities involving sex and drugs.
Early theories about BPD in the 1950s characterized the disorder as a borderline between neurosis and psychosis. The brain activity among people with BPD showed high activity for fight or flight which accounts for their aggressive behavior that overrides their rational thinking.
The stigma for people with BPD is still prevalent in today’s society. Even people with BPD have a self-stigma that reinforces their differences and contributes to their ostracization in society.
Symptoms of BPD
The common symptoms of BPD include anger management issues, exaggerated emotions and reactions, anxiety issues, and impulsive actions. People with BPD also exhibit frequent paranoia related to stress, risky behavior like reckless driving, spending spree, frequent unsafe sex, and gambling.
These symptoms are often used to mask the feeling of emptiness and their dissociation from society. Due to their lack of self-appreciation, they have an irrational fear of relationships, particularly on the possibility of abandonment. As a result, they often resort to either total seclusion or total obsession when entering into a personal relationship.
Other potential symptoms of BPD include obsessive-compulsive behavior and intense preoccupation for control and order. They are extremely sensitive to criticism from other people and are easily disappointed in others and themselves.
Is BPD a Disability?
BPD is characterized as a mental condition. It may pass as a disability, but it often requires certification from a medical professional and the person has to be under treatment for the condition. The treatment for BPD is often similar to treatment for other mental illnesses such as psychotherapy and medication.
To apply for eligibility for disability, a person with BPD must prove that the mental health condition interferes or hinders his/her ability to work. Usually, medical evidence showing how the mental health condition affects the person’s ability to work is required for social security institutions. Also, these interferences must be recurring for at least a year.
When is BPD Treated as a Disability?
People with BPD can have a hard time getting eligibility for disability benefits. A crucial factor is that people with BPD sometimes do not acknowledge that they have a personality disorder. However, their maladaptive behavior affects not only their lives but the lives of people around them.
Disability benefits can be very helpful due to the financial and emotional support for people with BPD struggling with keeping up with personal and professional tasks. Also, some symptoms and conditions associated with BPD are disabling enough and can negatively affect physical and emotional well-being.
Some of the common limitations that BPD can inflict on an individual are difficulty concentrating in performing tasks and duties, managing relationships and interacting with colleagues, and learning and remembering new information. However, social security institutions have guidelines and standards for determining whether an individual with BPD passes as a person with disability.
Some of the common determinants of disability include pathological behavior, seclusiveness, radical changes in mood, and unstable relationships. Usually, these characteristics result in restrictions in activities and difficulty in performing social functions.
To apply for eligibility for disability benefits, social security institutions often require laboratory, clinical, and psychological testing and findings. They may also require the type of medication, frequency of therapy, and courses of treatment.
The common medical evidence for assessment includes medical records of the patient which include mental status examination, psychological and neuropsychological tests, personality tests, and a statement from oneself and others on the status of the individual’s work.
They may also look for the various signs and symptoms of disability as a result of BPD as well as disruptions of mental functions. While it is fairly common that some people with BPD do not pass eligibility for disability, social security institutions may provide a Mental Residual Functional Capacity Assessment which provides the workplace and company with an assessment of the concerned employee’s mental limitations that can make a particular job or task difficult. This can help the company in sorting a more manageable arrangement for the company and the employee.
Borderline Personality Disorder manifests similar symptoms as other common mental health disorders. However, more severe cases of BPD can result in a significantly harder time for people to maintain their personal and professional lives. More advanced social security institutions are now slowly able to give bigger consideration for mental health disabilities as a legitimate and recognizable form of disability.