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Borderline Personality Disorder: Genetic & Biological Factors

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a complex mental health condition characterized by patterns of unstable relationships, emotions, self-image, and impulsive behaviour. The exact causes of BPD are not fully understood, but it is believed to develop from a combination of genetic, environmental, and neurological factors. Here are some genetic factors that are thought to contribute to the development of BPD:


1. Family History: There is evidence to suggest that there may be a genetic predisposition to BPD. Studies have shown that individuals with a family history of BPD or other mental health disorders are more likely to develop the condition themselves. A recent study in 2021 estimated the heritability rate to be around 46%.


2. Inherited Traits: Certain personality traits and temperamental factors that are partially influenced by genetics may predispose individuals to develop BPD. For example, individuals who exhibit higher levels of impulsivity or aggression in childhood may be more susceptible to developing BPD in adulthood.

3. Genetic variations: Specific genetic variations or mutations may increase the risk of developing BPD. Research studies have identified potential genetic markers associated with BPD, such as variations in genes re

ated to serotonin, dopamine, and other neurotransmitters involved in mood regulation and emotional processing.

In 2017, researchers identified the genes PKP4 and DYPD as linked to BPD. These genes have also been implicated in other mental health conditions, including Bipolar Disorder, suggesting some overlap with BPD at a genetic level. This may be reflected in the symptomatic expression of the conditions whereby both BPD and Bipolar have elements of emotional instability and impulsivity.

4. Neurobiological Factors: Some studies have suggested that certain brain regions and neurotransmitter systems may function differently in individuals with BPD. For example, abnormalities in the areas of the brain, esp. the amygdala, that regulate emotions, impulsivity, and self-control have been observed in individuals with BPD. Additionally, imbalances in neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which plays a role in mood regulation, have been implicated in BPD.

Notably, having a genetic predisposition and neurobiological imbalances do not mean that someone will inevitably develop BPD, as environmental factor also play a significant role. Click here to read more about environmental factors that can contribute to the development of BPD.


Therapy has been shown highly effective for reducing BPD symptoms, improving emotion regulation, interpersonal attachment, and cognitive control, and enhancing life satisfaction. If you are experiencing symptoms of BPD and want to find out how therapy can help you, please book a consultation with Dr. Terrighena on (852) 2521 4668 or e.terrighena@mind-balance.org.

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