How is borderline personality disorder treated?

How is borderline personality disorder treated?

BPD historically has been challenging to treat. But with newer, evidence-based treatment, many people with borderline personality disorder experience fewer and less severe symptoms, improved functioning and better quality of life.

But effective treatment takes time, patience and commitment. Treatment may include psychotherapy (talk therapy), medications or both.

Your healthcare provider may recommend a short-term hospital stay if you’re very distressed or at risk of harming yourself or others. During your stay, your healthcare provider will work with you to develop a treatment plan.

People with borderline personality disorder often have other mental health conditions, including:

  • Mood disorders (80% to 96% of people with BPD).
  • Anxiety disorders (88%).
  • Substance use disorder (64%).
  • Eating disorders (53%).
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (10% to 30%).
  • Bipolar disorder (15%).
  • Somatoform disorders (10%).

If they have a co-existing condition, they’ll also need treatment for it.

Psychotherapy treatment for BPD

Psychotherapy (talk therapy) is the treatment of choice for borderline personality disorder. The goal of treatment is to help you uncover the motivations and fears associated with your thoughts and behavior and to help you learn to relate to others more positively.

Types of therapy that can help treat BPD include:

  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT): This type of therapy was developed specifically for people with BPD. DBT focuses on helping you accept the reality of your life and your behaviors, as well as helping you learn to change your life, including unhelpful behaviors. It teaches skills to help you control intense emotions, reduce self-destructive behaviors and improve relationships.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): This is a structured, goal-oriented type of therapy. Your therapist or psychologist helps you take a close look at your thoughts and emotions. You’ll come to understand how your thoughts affect your actions. Through CBT, you can unlearn negative thoughts and behaviors and learn to adopt healthier thinking patterns and habits.
  • Group therapy: This is a type of psychotherapy in which a group of people meets to describe and discuss their problems together under the supervision of a therapist or psychologist. Group therapy may help people with BPD to interact with others more positively and express themselves effectively.

Medications for BPD

Because the benefits of prescription medication for borderline personality disorder are unclear, healthcare providers typically don’t prescribe medications as the main treatment for BPD.

But in some cases, a psychiatrist may recommend medications to treat specific symptoms or co-occurring mental health conditions. Medications can treat anxiety and depression, regulate mood swings or help control impulsive behavior. Antipsychotic (neuroleptic) drugs help some people with BPD.

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