If I have heard it once, I have heard this line a thousand times: ” BPD is more commonly diagnosed in females.” and while once upon a time there might well have been gender difference in those who actually seek treatment, the numbers have been slow equalising since the 1980′. Heck, even the psychology bible the DSM-III mentions that it is more common in women than men. However, studies were done by the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions have indeed found that BPD is equally as common among men and women in 2015 onwards.
The good news is most researchers in the field of BPD agree with this finding, that initial signs of a gender difference were just females being more open to being diagnosed. But this was more down to females with BPD displaying visible self-harming behaviour and thus being encouraged by friends and family to get help, with men not noticing it so much amongst even their closest of friends.
So yes, there are indeed some gender differences in BPD, especially when it comes to the main symptoms. Sure, you can put some of these differences down to cultural norms, or gender-based parenting styles, but even then there are clear signs that females and males handle BPD symptoms differently. Men don’t seem to notice their own Fear of Abandonment and Unstable Relationships, as they often wash them off as narcissistic behaviour. They put other symptoms like Explosive Anger down to “being an alpha man”, when that said ‘anger’ it is often at a level that is not normal by any man’s understanding. Men as also more prone to substance abuse than their female counterparts.
But that is not to say females don’t go through all those things as well and wash them off as being “needy” or “controlling” because they do. But most females with BPD still show strong signs of social interaction. They want to hang with friends, they want to meet new people. Oddly at the same time females are more likely to have mood, anxiety and PTSD disorders in addition to their BPD diagnosis with the symptoms of Fear of Abandonment & Unstable Relationships being the most common.
But somethings are the same between genders with BPD. Both men and women were equally likely to participate in self-harm methods like skin-cutting, rather than any other forms of self harming. The only thing that is for sure is that the original DSM-III diagnosis and the 9 main symptoms most associated with the disorder are right on point. In fact, taking all 9 symptoms into account there are no main differences between the genders at all. Both genders display equal levels of emotional distress at a given trial situation and both respond to the same forms of BPD targeted treatment.
I am sure once upon a time many therapists and psychologists though there was indeed gender differences when it comes to BPD, but that has since been turned into water under the bridge with better understands of the signs being shown by males and males having a better understanding of mental health issues as a whole. While the world doesn’t always change when it comes to being diagnosed with BPD it most certainly has changed for the better.