Borderline personality disorder: associations with psychiatric disorders, somatic illnesses, trauma, and adverse behaviors

Mol Psychiatry. 2022 May;27(5):2514-2521. doi: 10.1038/s41380-022-01503-z. Epub 2022 Mar 18.


In one of the largest, most comprehensive studies on borderline personality disorder (BPD) to date, this article places into context associations between this diagnosis and (1) 16 different psychiatric disorders, (2) eight somatic illnesses, and (3) six trauma and adverse behaviors, e.g., violent crime victimization and self-harm. Second, it examines the sex differences in individuals with BPD and their siblings. A total of 1,969,839 Swedish individuals were identified from national registers. Cumulative incidence with 95% confidence intervals (CI) was evaluated after 5 years of follow-up from BPD diagnosis and compared with a matched cohort. Associations were estimated as hazard ratios (HR) with 95% CIs from Cox regression. 12,175 individuals were diagnosed with BPD (85.3% female). Individuals diagnosed with BPD had higher cumulative incidences and HRs for nearly all analyzed indicators, especially psychiatric disorders. Anxiety disorders were most common (cumulative incidence 95% CI 33.13% [31.48-34.73]). Other notable findings from Cox regressions include psychotic disorders (HR 95% CI 24.48 [23.14-25.90]), epilepsy (3.38 [3.08-3.70]), violent crime victimization (7.65 [7.25-8.06]), and self-harm (17.72 [17.27-18.19]). HRs in males and females with BPD had overlapping CIs for nearly all indicators. This indicates that a BPD diagnosis is a marker of vulnerability for negative events and poor physical and mental health similarly for both males and females. Having a sibling with BPD was associated with an increased risk for psychiatric disorders, trauma, and adverse behaviors but not somatic disorders. Clinical implications include the need for increased support for patients with BPD navigating the health care system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology
  • Borderline Personality Disorder* / epidemiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Siblings