Diagnosing mental health disorders and developmental conditions is an ongoing process. Sometimes a set of symptoms appears to be one condition but turns out to be another after further observation or attempts at treatment. Differentiating between various conditions can be a challenge, especially when someone experiences symptoms of multiple conditions.
For example, both autism and borderline personality disorder are conditions that can lead to severe symptoms. They seem like they would be unique disorders with little crossover, but some people live with both conditions. If you’re wondering, “Can you have autism and BPD?” continue reading to learn more.
What is Autism?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), often referred to as autism, is a developmental disorder. It causes difficulties with communication skills, troubles with social interaction and etiquette, repetitive behaviors, and restrictive interests. Individuals with autism experience symptoms like difficulties initiating or maintaining conversation, maintaining eye contact, and interpreting gestures or social cues.
What is Borderline Personality Disorder?
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a personality disorder that causes emotional dysregulation, instability in self-image, impulsivity, and strained interpersonal relationships. Individuals with BPD experience intense emotions but have a hard time expressing them in healthy ways. Instead, they tend to act out and engage in risky behaviors, such as substance abuse, unprotected sex, reckless driving, or self-harm.
If You Have Autism, Can You Also Have BPD?
On the surface, autism and BPD may seem like very different conditions. The more you learn about them the more similar you realize they are. Both individuals with ASD and BPD experience a range of emotional, social, and communicative challenges. Depending on the person, symptoms may present themselves in varying ways but result in similar outcomes.
If you’re wondering, “Can you have autism and BPD?” research shows that it’s possible to experience both conditions. One study showed that 15% of patients with BPD also met the criteria for ASD.1 Living with these two complex conditions causes various difficulties that manifest differently from person to person.
For example, difficulties from autism typically result from social avoidance, withdrawal, or misinterpreted social cues. On the other hand, difficulties from BPD tend to come from distrust, antagonizing actions, erratic emotional states, and fear of abandonment.
Learning to manage symptoms and live with each condition is a challenge on its own; simultaneously managing both conditions is more challenging. Another study showed that something people both conditions have in common is an increased risk of suicidal ideation or actions.2 This is a primary reason why effective treatment approaches are vital to the solution.
How to Treat Autism and BPD Comorbidity
It’s crucial to seek compassionate, effective mental health treatment for someone who has autism and BPD. Left untreated, comorbid autism and BPD can have some negative and lasting effects. The increased likelihood of suicidal ideation, substance abuse, and a negative self-image are critical reasons to seek timely intervention.
Thankfully, treatment programs for people living with both autism and borderline personality disorder are available. Pasadena Villa is a psychiatric treatment network that offers a wide range of comprehensive services and programs for those seeking help with mental health or developmental disorders.
We understand the complexities that come with managing comorbid conditions. Our staff and facilities are well-equipped to help you or your loved one learn to live a full, functional, enjoyable life. To learn more about our autism and BPD treatment services, call us at 877-845-5235 today.
- Clinical Neuropsychiatry. (2008). Borderline personality disorder and autism spectrum disorder in females.
- Comprehensive Psychiatry. (2018). The co-occurrence of autistic traits and borderline personality disorder traits.