How is borderline personality disorder treated?

Treatment for BPD often includes psychotherapy (a type of counseling) and medication. Medication generally is given for specific symptoms—rather than to treat the disorder itself—and might include drugs to steady the patient’s mood, or to treat depression or anxiety. Anti-psychotic medications might also be used if the person suffers from severe periods of distorted thinking.

Psychotherapy is the main treatment for most personality disorders, including BPD. The focus of therapy is to help the person:

  • Increase self-awareness and stability in relationships.
  • Become less impulsive.
  • Use better judgment in his or her behavior and decisions.

A special type of behavior therapy, called dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), might be useful for people with BPD. The focus of DBT is on acceptance and change, and therapy is aimed at improving the person's behavioral abilities and motivation to change negative behavior. DBT is usually an intensive treatment process, involving both group and individual therapy.

The person might need brief stays in the hospital during times of high stress or when symptoms are especially difficult. Many people who have BPD attempt suicide, prompting hospitalization.

What are the complications of borderline personality disorder?

Without treatment, people with BPD are at greater risk for:

  • Substance abuse
  • Eating disorders
  • Depression
  • Self-injury
  • Suicide

In addition, BPD is linked to high conflict, divorce and separation from family members and friends. It also can lead to various financial and legal problems.

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