Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental health issue affecting people’s feelings about themselves and others, leading to unpredictable mood swings, impulsive behavior, and severe difficulty managing emotions. 

BPD mood swings occur as a result of triggers. Triggers are stressful situations that make people with BPD feel negative emotions they cannot cope with, leading to a pattern of erratic behavior. 

Understanding mood swings and their causes and using coping skills to reduce their severity is one of the best ways to manage them. This article explores what you need to know about BPD mood swings, their common triggers, and how to cope with them. 

What are BPD mood swings?

People with BPD can experience severe mood swings that reduce their ability to control their emotions. These mood swings affect how they see themselves and others.

For instance, they may feel incredibly close to someone one minute and have strong negative feelings toward them the next.

A BPD episode may also include bouts of depression, anger, self-harm, and disassociation.

The difficulty regulating their emotions and uncertainty about their identity can cause them to act unpredictably, change their goals and values, and constantly worry about abandonment.

These symptoms often hurt their relationships with their loved ones and long-term sense of self.

Common triggers of BPD mood swings

While triggers are highly personal, most people with BPD will struggle with one or more of these common triggers:

  • Abandonment And Rejection: The fear of real or imagined abandonment and rejection is one of the most common symptoms of BPD. This may lead to impulsive behaviors like moving too fast into romantic relationships to avoid being alone or ending them suddenly to prevent rejection.
  • Relationship Conflicts Or Instability: Disagreements, perceived rejection, and other relationship conflicts can lead to BPD mood swings. People with this disorder often long for fulfilling relationships with their romantic partners, friends, and family. Still, their poor emotional regulation and the tendency for irrational behavior lead to rocky relationships, worsening their symptoms.
  • Stressful Life Events: Stressful life events like losing their job or falling ill may increase the chance of experiencing BPD mood swings. Job loss, in particular, often leads to feeling abandoned by their employers. Researchers have also noticed that people with BPD have a high rate of physical, emotional, or sexual childhood abuse. Reminders of these traumas in interactions with others, with places, or in their minds can also cause mood swings.
  • Feeling Misunderstood, Invalidated, or Criticized: Criticism is a significant trigger for BPD mood swings. They often cannot separate criticism (even if constructive) from who they are and see it as a personal attack or rejection, worsening their symptoms. 
  • Lack Of Sleep: Tiredness and lack of sleep often make people more irritable, and in the case of BPD, it makes it more likely for mood swings to occur.

Coping Strategies For Managing BPD Mood Swings

Coping skills are an essential strategy for managing BPD mood swings and other symptoms of mental illness. These strategies can help those affected by BPD to control their emotions better.

These are some of the most important coping strategies people with BPD should focus on.


Receiving professional therapy is one of the best ways to understand BPD, its causes, and how to cope with it. The National Institute of Mental Health suggests the following therapy alternatives for people with BPD:

  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). A type of therapy developed to help people with BPD be more mindful, regulate their emotions better, minimize self-destructive behaviors, and gradually improve relationships with others.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Short-term therapy focuses on modifying negative thoughts and behavioral patterns.


Self-care is striving for whole-person well-being by engaging in activities or long-term processes that make you feel fulfilled. Some examples of self-care for BPD mood swings include:

  • Meditation, mindfulness, and breathing and relaxation techniques. 
  • Light exercises like walking or yoga.
  • Sticking to the treatment and medications (if prescribed by a psychiatrist).
  • Getting enough sleep, focusing on healthy whole foods, and maintaining good hygiene.
  • Using grounding techniques like focusing on how the objects around you feel.
  • Starting new hobbies.
  • Reading books.

Having a Strong Support Network

Support networks are essential for recovery or managing mental health challenges. Having a solid support network of trusted friends and family and perhaps members of mental health support groups can provide the following benefits:

  • Avoiding feelings of isolation.
  • Feeling welcomed and encouraged by people we care about.
  • Enjoying a sense of external motivation that fuels internal commitment to recovery.

Grounding Techniques

Grounding techniques are all about feeling in touch with your surroundings. One of the most common grounding techniques is taking the time to make a mental list of things around you that you can experience with your senses, also known as “5-4-3-2-1.”

You can list, for example, five things you can see, four things you can hear, three things you can touch from where you are, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.


A scientific study found a strong positive correlation between self-compassion and recovery and a strong negative correlation between self-criticism and recovery. This means that being compassionate to ourselves helps us recover and manage BPD symptoms, while self-criticism does the opposite.

Another study found that after three weeks of loving-kindness and compassion meditations, patients with BPD increased their acceptance of the present-moment experience, decreased the severity of their symptoms, and became more mindful, less self-critical, and kinder to themselves.

Seek Professional Help For BPD Mood Swings

Borderline personality disorder is a serious mental illness that affects people’s ability to regulate emotions, makes them behave erratically when rejected or abandoned, and leads to unstable romantic and platonic relationships.

If you or someone you love experiences frequent and severe mood swings, it may not always be BPD, but it’s a sign that something is going on with your or their emotional regulation. 

Seeking professional treatment may help identify a mental illness and recover as soon as possible.