How CBD can positively impact borderline personality disorder
Approximately 1.6 percent of adults in the U.S. suffer from borderline personality disorder (BPD), a condition characterized by difficulty regulating emotions, impulsivity, low self-image and problems creating and maintaining personal relationships.
BPD is notoriously difficult to treat. Medications don’t often provide relief from symptoms, only intense and specifically designed psychotherapy has proven any help.
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Cannabidiol (CBD), however, shows promise as a possible treatment option for those who struggle with BPD.
Borderline personality disorder symptoms
People with BPD exhibit most or all of the following symptoms:
- frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment by friends or family;
- unstable personal relationships that alternate between extreme idealization and devaluation;
- distorted and unstable self-image;
- impulsive, dangerous behaviour (e.g., overspending, substance abuse, unsafe sex, etc.);
- self-harming behaviour, including suicidal threats and attempts;
- periods of intense depression, irritability or anxiety, which can last for just a few hours to a several days;
- chronic feelings of boredom and/or emptiness;
- inappropriate, intense and uncontrollable anger, which is often followed by equally intense shame or guilt; and
- dissociation and/or stress-related paranoia.
Because BPD is a personality disorder, treatment options are limited. Behavioural therapies like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT) are the most effective treatment options for BPD. There are no medications designed specifically for BPD, but antidepressant, anti-anxiety and antipsychotic medications are often prescribed to BPD patients to address certain symptoms like depression, anxiety, dissociation, paranoia and intense anger. The benefit of these medications for people with BPD, however, remain unclear, and talk-therapy is often the first line of treatment for BPD.
How CBD can help
This is where CBD comes into the picture. When you ingest CBD, you ingest certain plant-derived cannabinoids, which act like the endocannabinoids the body produces naturally. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) produces endocannabinoids to regulate the body’s internal functions and control how we think, feel and react to things happening in the world around us.
Endocannabinoids do not follow what is considered the typical path of a chemical synaptic signalling, which is for a neurotransmitter to flow from a presynaptic neuron to a postsynaptic neuron and bind to a specific receptor. Instead, endocannabinoids flow backward from postsynaptic neurons to presynaptic neurons in a process called retrograde inhibition.
Endocannabinoids are sent throughout the body by the ECS to achieve and maintain the body’s internal homeostasis, or balance, among all of is working parts. In many psychiatric disorders, symptomatic or episodic behaviours can be traced back to overactive neurons, which send too many neurotransmitters from presynapse to postsynapse and overload receptors.
Since endocannabinoids follow the inverse of this process, they actually block and mediate the transfer of neurotransmitters to ensure the appropriate amount of neurotransmitters are being sent and binding to receptors. And, since the plant-derived cannabinoids that enter your body when you use CBD act like the endocannabinoids your body produces, they also work to mitigate the transfer of neurotransmitters and to combat overactive neural transfer associated with many of the BPD symptoms like anxiety, anger, impulsivity and even paranoia.
Among the endocannabinoid receptors that CBD activates are 5-HT1A serotonin receptors. Serotonin, informally known as the “happy chemical,” a chemical the body produces that’s important for mood regulation. People suffering from depression and anxiety, for instance, seem to exhibit lower levels of serotonin than do people who are not. People with BPD exhibit the same lowered serotonin levels. When CBD activates the 5-HT1A serotonin receptors, they bind to 5-HT serotonin neurotransmitters and increase serotonin production, which, in turn, combats the negative effects of depression and anxiety that come along with BPD.
Products to use
CBD products made from or with hemp oil can also be beneficial to people struggling with BPD. Hemp oil is high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which could have an anti-inflammatory effect on the brain and help cognitive function. And many psychiatric disorders, including BPD, correlate with a deficiency in Omega-3 fatty acids in the body. Research on Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation found it to be an effective treatment method for both children and adults with BPD.
There is no single, miracle fix for BPD. Managing BPD is incredibly difficult and requires hours of therapy and hard work. With the right treatment combination, though, people with BPD can still lead wonderful and fulfilling lives. This article is not to suggest that CBD can replace existing BPD treatment, or to guarantee that CBD will even work for everyone with BPD who tries it.
Everybody’s different, and so the way BPD manifests in different people and the way CBD affects different people is entirely relative to the individual. But CBD looks promising for BPD patients as a possible treatment option to supplement talk therapy and to target specific BPD symptoms that get in the way of everyday life.
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Cannabis Use and Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline personality disorder, or BPD, is a mental health condition that affects as many as 1.8% of the general population and 15% of psychiatric inpatients. BPD is characterized by a collection of symptoms, one of which is a tendency toward substance abuse.
The World Health Organization states that cannabis is the most common illicit substance, with around 147 million users worldwide. Therefore, it makes sense that there is a lot of overlap between cannabis use and borderline personality disorder.
This article explores this relationship and whether cannabis may be helpful or harmful for those suffering from BPD.
What Is Borderline Personality Disorder?
BPD is a common personality disorder that usually surfaces during adolescence or early adulthood. It tends to affect females more than males.
BPD can often occur alongside other mental health conditions, making it challenging to identify. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, doctors usually reach a diagnosis of BPD if a patient displays at least five of the following symptoms:
- Extreme fear of abandonment
- Difficult or unstable interpersonal relationships
- Unclear sense of identity
- Impulsivity (for example, reckless spending, sexual activity, gambling, or substance abuse)
- Self-harming or suicidal behavior
- Chronic feelings of boredom or emptiness
- Emotional instability
- Difficulty controlling anger
- Stress-related paranoia or dissociative episodes
It is not unusual for BPD to be accompanied by depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, or substance misuse disorders.
Experts believe BPD may be a result of a combination of genetic and environmental factors. It tends to affect people who had a disrupted, traumatic, or abusive childhood or to people who may have experienced abandonment at an early age.
Experts believe BPD may be a result of a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Research has also shown that people with BPD have differences in functional connectivity in different regions of the brain when compared to the brains of healthy individuals. MRI scans indicate that borderline patients have excessive activity in their amygdala, the area of the brain that controls fear and anxiety.
They also appear to have reduced activity in their frontal lobe, the area that regulates emotions. It is unclear whether these changes are an underlying cause or an effect of BPD.
BPD is difficult to treat and does not respond well to medication. The most successful BPD treatments include talk therapy and group therapy. One of the most effective therapies is a treatment called dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT).
Although medication is not particularly helpful for BPD itself, it can be useful in managing some of the symptoms. Doctors may prescribe medication such as antidepressants or mood stabilizers in addition to psychotherapy.
The Link Between Cannabis Use and Borderline Personality Disorder
One of the key symptoms of BPD is impulsive behavior. This includes the use of psychoactive substances such as cannabis. People with BPD may also use cannabis and other drugs to alleviate feelings of boredom or emptiness or to self-medicate their depression and/or anxiety.
Several studies have identified a link between cannabis use and BPD. These include a 2008 study of 99 cannabis-dependent inpatients in an addiction treatment ward. The study investigated the incidence of personality disorders among these patients and found that over one-third of them suffered from BPD.
A further 2012 study suggests that as many as 60% of BPD patients meet the criteria for substance abuse disorders. However, this figure also includes alcohol and other substances, not only cannabis. The authors go on to suggest that substance misuse in BPD increases the risk of poor school performance, unemployment, promiscuous behavior, suicide attempts, and early treatment termination.
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However, one of the most interesting studies on BPD and substance abuse was published back in 1990. It suggests that 69% of BPD patients may suffer from substance misuse disorders (24.1% for cannabis).
The thing that sets this study apart from the others is that the authors removed substance abuse from the diagnostic criteria for BPD. They found that 23% of the patients no longer met the BPD criteria when they did this.
These patients had different characteristics from the others, namely less dislike of being alone, fewer feelings of emptiness, and less identity disturbance. Therefore, the authors suggest that drug abuse may be a risk factor for developing BPD as well as a symptom.
The relationship between cannabis and BPD is a complex one. But could it be a suitable treatment for this condition?
Does Cannabis Help BPD?
Cannabis has significant effects on both the body and mind, which stem from its interaction with the human endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS comprises cell receptors known as cannabinoid receptors and chemicals called endocannabinoids.
Endocannabinoids bind with cannabinoid receptors to trigger a variety of physical and psychological changes. In the brain, they help to regulate the activity of neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that influence our mood and emotions.
The cannabinoids that the cannabis plant produces, THC and CBD, work similarly. They have a molecular structure that is much like our natural endocannabinoids. Therefore, they can bind with the same receptors and act directly upon the ECS.
This is why many patients use marijuana and CBD oil to manage mood disorders like depression and anxiety. But does cannabis help BPD in a similar way?
Research suggests that people with BPD may undergo certain changes in their ECS. One study found raised levels of the endocannabinoid, anandamide, in BPD patients’ blood. Another found reduced levels of the same compound in BPD patients’ cerebrospinal fluid.
It is unclear precisely what these findings mean. However, scientists have suggested that this imbalance may lead to symptoms such as self-aggression and suicidal behavior. By altering ECS activity, cannabis may possibly help.
Another way that cannabis could potentially help patients with BPD is by reducing activity in the amygdala. This may decrease symptoms such as anxiety and fear. However, users must exercise caution with high-THC marijuana strains. While low doses of THC may help to relieve anxiety, higher doses can actually increase it. In some people, THC can even cause feelings of panic and paranoia.
Therefore, it may be safer for BPD patients to choose a low THC and high CBD marijuana strain. They may even prefer to opt for CBD oil.
Borderline Personality Disorder and CBD Oil
Unlike THC, CBD does not produce intoxicating effects. Therefore, it does not have the same potential to cause increased anxiety and paranoia. Many users have reported that CBD helps them to manage anxiety and other conditions like depression.
CBD does not act on cannabinoid receptors directly. It influences the ECS by increasing levels of endocannabinoids such as anandamide. This has a positive effect on mood and could, therefore, help people with conditions like BPD.
Another useful aspect of CBD oil for BPD is its potentially anti-addictive properties. A 2015 review found that CBD may help with various substance use disorders, a significant issue in BPD.
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The most common way to consume CBD oil is by placing a few drops under the tongue for up to 90 seconds. It is also available in many other forms, including capsules and edibles, which offer a more convenient method of consumption.
One thing to look out for when choosing a CBD product for BPD is whether it is full-spectrum or isolate. Many experts consider full-spectrum products superior. This is because they contain a variety of other cannabinoids and terpenes in addition to the CBD.
These extra ingredients may enhance the way that CBD works inside the body. They also have beneficial properties of their own. For example, CBN is a lesser-known cannabinoid with sedative effects. It could help to aid relaxation and improve sleep. Terpenes such as linalool and limonene also appear to have anti-anxiety effects.
Final Thoughts on Cannabis and Borderline Personality Disorder
Cannabis and borderline personality disorder have a close and complicated relationship. Many BPD patients use cannabis to self-medicate due to its calming properties. However, in some cases, it could increase symptoms of anxiety and paranoia, making the situation worse.
Cannabis and borderline personality disorder have a close and complicated relationship.
In summary, when used responsibly, cannabis and CBD may be helpful for some symptoms of BPD. However, they are not a substitute for appropriate medical care.
If you suffer from BPD and would like to manage your condition using marijuana or CBD oil, talk to a medical professional first. This is especially important if you take any other medication such as antidepressants or antipsychotics. Your physician will ensure that cannabis therapy is suitable for you and that you use it safely and beneficially.
Targeting the Endocannabinoid System in Borderline Personality Disorder: Corticolimbic and Hypothalamic Perspectives
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a chronic debilitating psychiatric disorder characterized mainly by emotional instability, chaotic interpersonal relationships, cognitive disturbance (e.g., dissociation and suicidal thoughts) and maladaptive behaviors. BPD has a high rate of comorbidity with other mental disorders and a high burden on society. In this review, we focused on two compromised brain regions in BPD – the hypothalamus and the corticolimbic system, emphasizing the involvement and potential contribution of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to improvement in symptoms and coping. The hypothalamus-regulated endocrine axes (hypothalamic pituitary – gonadal, thyroid & adrenal) have been found to be dysregulated in BPD. There is also substantial evidence for limbic system structural and functional changes in BPD, especially in the amygdala and hippocampus, including cortical regions within the corticolimbic system. Extensive expression of CB1 and CB2 receptors of the ECS has been found in limbic regions and the hypothalamus. This opens new windows of opportunity for treatment with cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD) as no other pharmacological treatment has shown long-lasting improvement in the BPD population to date. This review aims to show the potential role of the ECS in BPD patients through their most affected brain regions, the hypothalamus and the corticolimbic system. The literature reviewed does not allow for general indications of treatment with CBD in BPD. However, there is enough knowledge to indicate a treatment ratio of a high level of CBD to a low level of THC. A randomized controlled trial investigating the efficacy of cannabinoid based treatments in BPD is warranted.
Keywords: Borderline personality disorder; cannabidiol; corticolimbic system; endocannabinoid system; hypothalamus; pharmacological treatment.
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Adverse effects of early stress…
Adverse effects of early stress exposure are a risk factor for the development…
Adverse effects of early stress exposure are a risk factor for the development of Borderline Personality Disorder. This depends on alterations in the hypothalamus and the corticolimbic system. The Endocannabinoid system may function as a modulator through receptor crosstalk in these brain regions.