What Is a Borderline Personality Disorder Test?

Borderline personality disorder is a mental health condition that is characterized by a pattern of unstable mood, self-image, and behavior. People who have borderline personality disorder often have difficulty in maintaining relationships and are prone to impulsive actions.

People with borderline personality disorder can quickly change interests and values. Most things are viewed in extremes of being all good or all bad. The condition can be misdiagnosed as another mood disorder because some of the patterns are similar—such as impulsive behavior and intense episodes of anger, depression, and anxiety.

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Criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder

The criteria for diagnosing borderline personality disorder are outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DMS-5). For someone to be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder five of the nine signs and symptoms must be present.

According to the DSM-5, the nine criteria of borderline personality disorder are:

  • Fear of abandonment
  • Unstable and intense relationships, with rapid changes between idealization and devaluation
  • Identity disturbances
  • Impulsivity (spending money, unsafe sexual behavior, substance abuse, and other risk-taking behavior)
  • Recurrent suicidal behavior, threats of committing suicide, or behaviors causing self-harm
  • Emotional instability
  • Feelings of emptiness
  • Inappropriate anger and uncontrolled aggression
  • Stress dependent paranoid ideations or dissociative symptoms 

How Is Borderline Personality Disorder Diagnosed?

There are no clinical imaging or laboratory tests that can confirm or rule out a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. It is diagnosed by a mental health professional through a clinical assessment.

Diagnosis can be challenging, as the symptoms of borderline personality disorder can overlap with multiple other mental health conditions, like:

Seeing a trained healthcare provider can ensure that you receive an accurate diagnosis and an appropriate treatment plan to help manage and reduce your symptoms.

Types of Tests

The Diagnostic Interview for Borderlines—Revised

The revised diagnostic interview for borderlines (DIB) is a semi-structured interview that assesses the symptoms and signs of borderline personality disorder. It is based on reported behaviors and feelings over the preceding two years. This test takes about 30 to 60 minutes to complete.

Structured Clinical Interview

The structured clinical interview follows the official interview guide from the American Psychiatric Association. A clinical will directly ask you questions that are related to the DSM-5 criteria for borderline personality disorder.

The Mclean Screening Instrument

The McLean Screening Instrument for Borderline Personality Disorder (MSI-BPD) is a 10 item questionnaire. This is commonly used to screen for borderline personality disorder.

Borderline Personality Questionnaire

The borderline personality questionnaire is a longer form questionnaire, including 80 true/false questions, that is used to assess symptoms.

The International Personality Disorder Examination Screening Questionnaire

This tool is a 77-item self-report questionnaire that is used to assess personality disorders. There is a subsection of the questionnaire that is designed specifically to assess the criteria for diagnosing borderline personality disorder.

The Mood Disorder Questionnaire

This is a self-report questionnaire that is used for diagnosing mood disorders. However, it is not the most effective tool for diagnosing borderline personality disorder because it has been found to misdiagnose the disorder.

Effectiveness of Tests

For an official diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, an assessment by a trained mental health provider—such as a psychiatrist or psychologist—is required. They will do this through an interview, medical exam, and potentially use a diagnostic tool. Self-reported questionnaires are less commonly used in clinical settings.

A Word From Verywell

Borderline personality disorder is difficult to identify because its symptoms overlap with many other mood disorders. Interviews and questionnaires can be used to assist a trained professional in making an accurate diagnosis. After your diagnosis, consistently following the treatment plan prescribed by your mental health provider will help you manage the symptoms of your disorder.

2 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Institutes of Mental Health. Borderline personality disorder.

  2. Biskin RS, Paris J. Diagnosing borderline personality disorder. CMAJ. 2012;184(16):1789-1794. doi:10.1503/cmaj.090618

By Ashley Braun, MPH, RD
Ashley Braun, MPH, RD, is a registered dietitian and public health professional with over 5 years of experience educating people on health-related topics using evidence-based information. Her experience includes educating on a wide range of conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, HIV, neurological conditions, and more.