People with borderline personality disorder have a history of instability in their lives. They may experience volatile mood swings or have turbulent relationships with others. Many people with borderline personality disorder have a skewed or nonexistent sense of their own self. Individuals with this condition tend to make sudden changes in jobs, friendships, long-term goals and other aspects of their lives. People with borderline personalities also have a higher than normal rate of suicidal behavior.
In general, personality disorders are difficult to treat because they reflect long-standing behaviors and strategies for coping with the world. This is particularly true for borderline personality disorder. The patient may have a volatile relationship with her therapist, shifting suddenly from seeing the therapist as helpful to seeing him as “bad.” Doctors and therapists, on the other hand, may view individuals with borderline personality as troublesome, difficult patients, which can lead to discrimination against people with this condition by providers of care.
Borderline Personality Disorder Medications
Medication is sometimes prescribed to treat the symptoms of borderline personality disorder. Medications, however, typically can’t be relied on as the sole borderline personality disorder treatment, because drugs do not treat the underlying cause of the disorder. However, certain antipsychotic drugs, mood stabilizers and antidepressants can relieve some of the more severe symptoms of borderline personality disorder.
For example, antipsychotic drugs can help regulate disorganized thinking. Antidepressants may be prescribed for people with borderline personality who display suicidal behavior, or to relieve anxiety. However, these drugs should generally not be prescribed for long-term use.
Borderline Personality Therapy
Psychotherapy is the preferred method for treating borderline personality disorder. While medications may effectively treat certain symptoms, they cannot teach a person with borderline personality disorder to cope with the illness or change thought patterns and behavior. Therapy–which can last for up to a year–allows the patient and a mental-health expert to get to the root of the illness and change behaviors associated with the disorder.
Dialectical behavior therapy is particularly effective as a borderline personality disorder treatment. This type of therapy targets four major issues for people with borderline personality disorder:
- Impulsive behavior
- Mood instability
- Problems relating to others
Dialectical behavior therapy teaches people with borderline personality disorder to regulate their emotions, tolerate distress and be mindful of others. Patients are encouraged to understand how their actions affect other people, and they learn how to interact effectively with others. Dialectical behavior therapy typically takes place in a group setting and is considered to be one of the most effective borderline personality disorder treatments.
In some patients, partial hospitalization may be a treatment option. Partial hospitalization involves spending the day in a safe and structured environment and then returning home in the evening. This treatment approach is usually preferable to full hospitalization in most patients.
Dryden-Edwards (2009). Borderline personality disorder (BPD). Retrieved August 10, 2010, from http://www.medicinenet.com/borderline_personality_disorder/article.htm
Grohol, J.M. (2007). Borderline personality disorder treatment. Retrieved August 10, 2010, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/2007/borderline-personality-disorder-treatment/