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Borderline Personality Disorder

A serious mental illness marked by unstable moods and impulsive behavior.

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(Source: NIH - National Cancer Institute)

About Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental illness marked by unstable moods, behavior, and relationships. In 1980, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, Third Edition (DSM-III) listed BPD as a diagnosable illness for the first time. Most psychiatrists and other mental health professionals use the DSM to diagnose mental illnesses.

Because some people with severe BPD have brief psychotic episodes, experts originally thought of this illness as atypical, or borderline, versions of other mental disorders. While mental health experts now generally agree that the name "borderline personality disorder" is misleading, a more accurate term does not exist yet.

Most people who have BPD suffer from:

  • Problems with regulating emotions and thoughts
  • Impulsive and reckless behavior
  • Unstable relationships with other people

People with this disorder also have high rates of co-occurring disorders, such as depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, and eating disorders, along with self-harm, suicidal behaviors, and completed suicides....Read more about Borderline Personality Disorder NIH - National Institute of Mental Health

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Borderline Personality Disorder: Treatment and Management

The guideline on Borderline Personality Disorder, commissioned by NICE and developed by the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health, sets out clear, evidence- and consensus-based recommendations for healthcare staff on how to treat and manage borderline personality disorder.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) in Borderline Personality Disorder [Internet]

Conclusions There is limited scientific evidence showing that DBT reduces self-injurious behavior and that the effect remains at 2-year follow-up (limited scientific evidence). Treatment also appears to reduce the need for hospitalization and reduce drug use among people with addictions. Hence, DBT appears to be a promising form of treatment for patients with borderline personality disorder. However, it needs to be tested under Swedish conditions, and it is essential to conduct studies addressing the cost effectiveness of the method.

Crisis interventions for people with borderline personality disorder

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a complex and severe mental disorder that affects approximately 2% of the general population. Many people with BPD experience considerable instability in their interpersonal relationships and sense of who they are, leading to frequent crises and acts of self harm. To date, little is known about what might help people with BPD when they are experiencing an acute crisis. In this review, we wanted to examine how effective crisis interventions are for people with BPD by looking at evidence from randomised controlled trials (RCTs).

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Summaries for consumers

Crisis interventions for people with borderline personality disorder

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a complex and severe mental disorder that affects approximately 2% of the general population. Many people with BPD experience considerable instability in their interpersonal relationships and sense of who they are, leading to frequent crises and acts of self harm. To date, little is known about what might help people with BPD when they are experiencing an acute crisis. In this review, we wanted to examine how effective crisis interventions are for people with BPD by looking at evidence from randomised controlled trials (RCTs).

Drug treatment for borderline personality disorder

Many people with borderline personality disorder (BPD) receive medical treatment. However, there are no drugs available for BPD treatment specifically. A certain drug is most often chosen because of its known properties in the treatment of associated disorders, or BPD symptoms that are also known to be present in other conditions, such as depressive, psychotic, or anxious disorders. BPD itself is characterised by a pervasive pattern of instability in affect regulation (with symptoms such as inappropriate anger, chronic feelings of emptiness, and affective instability), impulse control (symptoms: self‐mutilating or suicidal behaviour, ideation, or suicidal threats to others), interpersonal problems (symptoms: frantic efforts to avoid abandonment, patterns of unstable relationships with idealization and depreciation of others), and cognitive‐perceptual problems (symptoms: identity disturbance in terms of self perception, transient paranoid thoughts or feelings of dissociation in stressful situations). This review aimed to summarise the current evidence of drug treatment effects in BPD from high‐quality randomised trials.

Psychological therapies for borderline personality disorder

People with borderline personality disorder often have difficulties controlling their emotions and impulses, and find it hard to keep relationships. They can experience feelings of emptiness, suffer quick changes in mood and they may harm themselves. Problems coping with abandonment and a rapidly changing view of other people can form part of their difficulties. All of these things make it hard for them to engage with any treatment they may be offered. Those who are able to engage often find it hard to stick with the treatment and leave before the end. Certain types of psychological treatment ('talking therapies') have been developed in recent years to help people with this disorder. This review summarises what is currently known about the effects of these treatments. It updates a review published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews in 2006.

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Terms to know

Anxiety Disorders
A category of disorders characterized by feelings of anxiety and fear. These feelings may cause physical symptoms, such as a racing heart and shakiness.
Depression
Depression is a state of low mood and aversion to activity that can affect a person's thoughts, behavior, feelings and sense of well-being.
Eating Disorders
Mental disorders defined by abnormal eating habits that negatively affect a person's physical or mental health.
Psychosis
A severe mental disorder in which a person loses the ability to recognize reality or relate to others. Symptoms include being paranoid, having false ideas about what is taking place or who one is, and seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there.

More about Borderline Personality Disorder

Photo of an adult woman

Also called: BPD

Other terms to know: See all 4
Anxiety Disorders, Depression, Eating Disorders

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