How is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) Treated?

treatment for borderline personality disorder

How is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) Treated?

Personality disorders are mental health conditions that affect the way an individual thinks, feels, and behaves. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 9% of the U.S. population is diagnosed with a personality disorder.[1]

The most common personality disorder is known as borderline personality disorder (BPD), affecting nearly 1.4% of the U.S. population. Additionally, 75% of individuals diagnosed with BPD are women.[2]

Borderline personality disorder causes people to struggle with intense and unpredictable emotions. The way that they perceive themselves and others can rapidly shift, causing interpersonal relationship issues and fluctuating feelings of self-worth. The symptoms of this condition can greatly impact an individual’s daily life, making professional treatment necessary.

Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder

BPD is a condition that causes an individual to think, feel, and behave differently than others. Individuals who struggle with this disorder tend to think and feel in black and white extremes, causing their interests and values to change rapidly. Additionally, a borderline personality disorder is often associated with severe abandonment issues as well as impulsive and reckless behavior.

The symptoms of BPD may include:

  • Extreme efforts to avoid real or perceived abandonment
  • Patterns of intense and unstable relationships with family, friends, and partners
  • Unstable and distorted sense of self or self-esteem
  • Impulsive and dangerous behavior such as excessive spending, hypersexuality, substance abuse, reckless driving, or binge eating
  • Self-harming behaviors like cutting, burning, or hitting oneself
  • Frequent suicidal ideation or attempts
  • Intense and irregular moods, with episodes lasting anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of days
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • Inappropriate anger that is intense and difficult to control
  • Feelings of dissociation (i.e. feeling disconnected from oneself, observing oneself from outside of the body, feelings of unreality)

People with this condition may experience some of these symptoms or all of them. Additionally, individuals must consult with a mental health professional to be assessed for borderline personality disorder, self-diagnosing this condition can be dangerous as the symptoms overlap with several other disorders.

It is important to note that BPD and bipolar disorder are often mistaken for one another due to an overlapping of symptoms. However, the patterns of behavior differ greatly between the two disorders. While borderline personality disorder causes mood episodes lasting a day or two, bipolar disorder causes episodes that can last a couple of weeks to several months.

Therapies Used to Treat Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Individuals with borderline personality disorder are primarily treated through psychotherapy and behavioral therapy. Emotional regulation is a vital aspect of recovering from this disorder, as many individuals with this condition do not know how to cope with their intense and rapidly shifting emotions. Additionally, because it frequently stems from early childhood trauma, many individuals will undergo trauma-informed therapy.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a type of behavioral therapy that was designed to treat conditions like a borderline personality disorder. DBT includes group counseling and individual therapy sessions to provide the patient with peer support and a safe space to talk about personal issues.

According to the National Library of Medicine, “Dialectical behavior therapy aims to address the symptoms of BPD by replacing maladaptive behaviors with healthier coping skills, such as mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotion regulation, and distress tolerance.”[3]

Schema-Focused Therapy

Schema-focused therapy is a form of therapy developed to treat personality disorders and other mental health conditions that cause chronic symptoms. When it comes to BPD, this type of therapy helps patients recover from any emotional dysregulation that results from childhood trauma or neglect.

Schema-focused therapy allows individuals to vent their anger, learn how to break patterns of unhealthy behaviors, and change negative ways of thinking. This improves an individual’s ability to have healthy interpersonal relationships.

Mentalization-Based Therapy (MBT)

MBT is a form of therapy that helps individuals identify their thoughts and feelings in any given situation. Then, the process of MBT teaches patients how to view the situation in a different light. This helps them identify when their interpretation of a situation is abnormal.

The National Library of Medicine describes the importance of mentalization in BPD treatment, “In BPD, a fragile mentalizing capacity vulnerable to social and interpersonal interaction is considered a core feature of the disorder. If treatment is to be successful, it must either have mentalization as its focus or at the very least stimulate the development of mentalizing as an epiphenomenon.”[4]

Because individuals with BPD tend to suffer from a skewed perception of reality, learning how to mentalize alternative perspectives on situations allows them to avoid negative patterns of thoughts and behaviors.

Transference Focused Psychotherapy (TFP)

Transference-focused therapy is a skills-based therapeutic approach that analyzes the relationship between a therapist and a patient. Once their relationship is analyzed, they will identify insights on how the relationship is successful or unsuccessful. The findings will then be applied to real-life friendships or relationships to work on building interpersonal skills.

Medications and Hospitalization

When it comes to treating borderline personality disorder, there are no psychiatric medications approved for the specific treatment of this condition. However, some of the symptoms of BPD may be managed with anti-depressants or mood stabilizers.

Additionally, individuals who struggle from severe symptoms of borderline personality disorder may benefit from inpatient treatment.

According to multiple studies, about 75% of individuals with BPD will attempt suicide at least once, if not multiple times throughout their lives. Unfortunately, about 10% of people with this condition succeed- making BPD among the mental health conditions with the highest rates of suicide.[5] As a result, hospitalization is necessary in cases of suicidal behavior.

Finding Treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder

Living with borderline personality disorder can be extremely difficult. Similarly, leaving this condition untreated is dangerous, especially considering the high likelihood of suicidal ideation and attempts. If you or a loved one suffer from BPD, it may be time to consider attending professional treatment.

Florida Recovery Group is a treatment program that offers individualized treatment planning for people with BPD. Whether you suffer from comorbid BPD and a substance use disorder or only BPD, we are here to help. Contact us today for more information on our mental health treatment program in Delray Beach, FL.