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How to Deal with Anger Borderline Personality Disorder

Updated: Oct 17, 2022

People with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) have a difficult time controlling their emotions. One of these uncontrollable emotions is anger; as with all other emotions, BPD sufferers feel this more intensely than others. Their mood can change from playful to angry within seconds. Something that others may perceive as something small or normal could suddenly be a trigger that sets off the survival mechanisms of someone with BPD.

In this article, we'll discuss what causes anger in someone with BPD and what to do during Borderline rage.

Can you have BPD and not be perpetually angry?

People with BPD are frequently portrayed and judged as perpetually angry or rageful. But even though anger is one of their unstable emotions, which is sometimes referred to as borderline rage, it is not something that is always dominant. You can have BPD without being angry all the time.

People are often surprised by my diagnosis because I rarely show anger. Unfortunately, the disorder is known for being manipulative, angry, dramatic, and difficult, even though identity issues, low self-esteem, and fear of abandonment and rejection are more significant factors. My symptoms are mostly directed inwards, and I can hide the disorder quite well from the average stranger. When I'm angry, I usually keep it to myself at first and internalize it. Then I'll tell them they've hurt me and give them the silent treatment, which is not something I'm proud of.

What causes BPD anger?

Mood swings are common among those with BPD. The slightest thing can trigger them, and sufferers of the disorder can take it to the extreme. They lack emotional skin, so even the slightest touch can result in intense pain. You might say something that seems normal to you but it can suddenly set them off, resulting in an argument where they could get aggressive by, for example, throwing objects. This is an extreme reaction to anger. At that moment, they don't realize how far they're taking it and don't realize that they're overreacting. And most of the time, after it has happened, they feel guilty and realize it was an overreaction.

The 'sudden' outburst is due to the continuous internalization of anger. Due to their low self-esteem and tendency to avoid conflict in order to prevent rejection, people with BPD tend to internalize more than other people. After a while, all the pent-up anger will burst out, which may come unexpectedly to others. Studies have found that internalizing anger can lead to depression and is the cause of many mental health problems, regardless of whether you have a mental illness or not.

Splitting, also known as black-and-white thinking, is a symptom of BPD that plays a big role in their angry outbursts. Splitting is going from idealization to devaluing someone. It may happen after a minor disagreement or when they feel disappointed in someone. People with BPD tend to give someone the silent treatment when the devaluing phase starts. They are essentially 'done' with the other person.

Additionally, people with BPD have a tendency to overthink a lot which only increases repressed emotions. From my own experience, I spend more time in my head than in the real world. I overthink every little thing. Eventually, an outburst is unavoidable when the mind is filled with negative, upsetting, and angry thoughts. This can turn into long-lasting aggressive behavioral problems. Having a repetitive negative thought process can make the sufferer more aggressive and more frequent over periods of time.

How long does BPD anger last?

This disorder makes it difficult for the sufferer to control their emotions and to get back to their normal state. There are, of course, many factors that influence how long someone with BPD is angry, but the general duration of BPD anger can range from a few hours to a few days. Ultimately, it varies from person to person.

It also depends on the BPD sufferer's ability to own up to their mistakes. Good communication, which is necessary for healthy relationships, can be facilitated by self-awareness from both sides of the conflict.

What to do with BPD rage?

The burst of rage comes from bottling up so much emotion, stress, and anger that it's only a matter of time before someone snaps. Resentment and tension just make the anger worse, and the more one tries to hold it down and let it boil inside them, the more it pushes those with BPD towards acts of aggression. Someone with this disorder should assert themselves and always try to address what they are feeling, no matter how negative their emotions may be. Letting it out sooner could be the key to lowering the chances of an outburst fueled by rage. However, it takes time and patience for one to develop assertiveness.

Not being able to control your emotions makes for unstable relationships. Something that can help with BPD anger is to notice the warning signs/triggers. Usually, anger is triggered by a certain thing/person, an event, or the tone in which someone is talking. Understanding these triggers can increase your awareness of your anger and aid in its control. And for people who have someone close to them with BPD, it is never beneficial to tell them that they are overreacting since it's more likely to make things even worse.

Intense emotions can make anyone feel distressed. Once one feels the anger brewing inside them like a boiling pot of tea, just walk away and take some time out. I have had many occasions where I’ve had to take a walk to calm down. What often helps people with BPD is finding a hobby that calms and relaxes them. For some, it's painting or exercise; for me, it's writing.

Despite these little tips to help with BPD anger, one thing that is a must…seek professional help. Don’t take it all on yourself or depend on a loved one to help you. Only a professional can give you the right advice and put you on the right path. Yes, it’s hard to reach out. I know only too well. But, if you want to get better, you need to accept help.


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