Acera Health

Impulsive BPD – What You Need to Know

One friend with impulsive bpd angry at another

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a severe mental health disorder where the person displays consistent instability in their self-image and interpersonal relationships. This condition is first observed in early adulthood. It is frequently misdiagnosed or underdiagnosed, causing many individuals to fail to seek treatment for their condition.

While a specific cause of BPD is unknown, there are specific environmental and genetic factors believed to bring about BPD in individuals.

The following symptoms characterize BPD:

  • Mood swings.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Constant self-criticism.
  • Hypersensitive to perceived criticism or rejection.
  • Black and white thinking.
  • A tendency to be highly judgmental of others.
  • Increased depression and anxiety.
  • Emotions that are easily aroused are often disproportionate to their triggers.
  • Instability regarding their core values, goals, and aspirations.
  • Fear of losing control.
  • Fear of the unknown or discomfort with the uncertain.
  • Separation anxiety.
  • Hostility towards others.
  • Deep feelings of hopelessness and shame.
  • Suicidal thoughts.
  • General impulsivity.

What is Impulsive BPD?

Impulsive borderline personality disorder is a subtype of BPD. Individuals with impulsive BPD exhibit the symptoms of common BPD, but their impulsive behaviors are much more pronounced. These individuals have difficulty controlling their sudden urges. They tend to engage in high-risk behaviors without regard for potential consequences they have most likely previously experienced. 

Those with impulsive BPD act on their impulses for a few different reasons:

  • To satisfy urges, they have difficulty controlling.
  • A desire for immediate gratification.
  • To better connect with others.
  • To get attention from others even though the result may be superficial.

Those who have impulsive BPD can be perceived as being highly charismatic and tend to need to be the center of attention. They have trouble maintaining relationships that could be deep or meaningful. They tend to dive into a new relationship quickly and leave a relationship just as suddenly. Most of their relationships and personal interactions tend to be superficial. 

It is not uncommon for individuals with impulsive BPD to suffer from co-occurring conditions such as substance abuse. They might be attracted to using illegal drugs or alcohol because it may make them feel like they fit better. What might start as the occasional use of illicit substances or alcohol can quickly spiral out of control. This is due to the lack of impulse control with impulsive BPD.

Impulsive BPD is considered to be a lifelong condition. Fortunately, impulsive BPD does respond well to treatment by mental health professionals.

Examples of Impulsive BPD Behaviors

Those with impulsive BPD tend to be more prone to anger. They may also experience deep feelings of emptiness and engage in self-destructive behavior.

Other examples of impulsive BPD behaviors include:

  • Seemingly elusive and unpredictable.
  • Able to easily entertain others superficially but avoid deeper interactions and meaningful relationships.
  • Flirtatious with others while often unaware they are doing so.
  • Easily bored despite having high energy.
  • Changing or abruptly canceling plans.
  • Displaying attention-seeking behavior.
  • A tendency to be overly dramatic.
  • Destroying property.
  • Frequently displaying emotional outbursts.
  • Can be highly manipulative of others to be the center of attention.
  • Often displaying high-risk behavior such as promiscuous sex or using drugs.
  • Oversharing their emotions.
  • Self-harm activities such as cutting.
  • Frequently complain of feeling sick or experiencing recurring illness.
  • Binge eating.

Treatments for Impulsive BPD

The long-term outlook for those with impulsive BPD is quite good with treatment. The most effective treatment plans are comprehensive plans that include a combination of psychotherapy, medication, and family and peer support. Often, those with impulsive BPD also have a co-occurring condition that should also be addressed in these treatment plans.


Psychotherapy is a collaborative approach between mental health professional and their patient. It is often called “talk therapy” due to its one-on-one interaction. The primary goal of psychotherapy is to help the patient work through their problems and develop healthy coping skills. Psychotherapy has long been a practical foundation for treating the various types of BPD.

Two primary types of psychotherapy are used when treating BPD: dialectical behavior therapy and cognitive behavior therapy. 

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is considered the most effective in treating impulsive BPD. DBT was developed specifically to treat BPD. This therapy uses mindfulness to teach the individual about their situation and emotional state. DBT teaches patients how to control their emotions, improve their relationships with others, and reduce their impulsive behaviors.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that helps the individual identify and change those core behaviors. CBT further helps the individual better interact with others and reduce their mood swings and anxiety. Finally, it teaches the individual new behaviors to replace impulsive, high-risk, and suicidal behaviors.


No known medication directly treats people with BPD. However, some types of medication have proven effective in treating some symptoms. Medication can help treat symptoms such as depression and anxiety in conjunction with psychotherapy. Medications can also be used to treat co-occurring conditions.

Family Support

Most family members of those with impulsive BPD have struggled with the knowledge of how to help them. Family support groups give loved ones the tools they need to support those individuals as they go through treatment. These support groups also help the family better understand the condition and treatment their family member is going through.  

Get Treatment for Impulsive BPD

You have options when you are ready to treat your symptoms of impulsive BPD. In Orange County, Acera Health specializes in treating behavioral health issues. We have options for residential treatment, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient treatment. 

We use evidence-based treatment to treat patients with impulsive BPD. The mental health professionals at Acera have years of experience with DBT and CBT psychotherapy. They also have experience delivering medication-assisted treatments and offering group therapy and peer and family support groups.

No two impulsive BPD patients are the same. Each patient is evaluated and presented with a comprehensive treatment plan to address their conditions, including any existing co-occurring conditions. 

Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help.

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Preston Powell


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