Current research shows that treatment can decrease the symptoms and suffering of people with BPD.
Treatment For Borderline Personality Disorder
Talk therapy is commonly the first choice of treatment, which is different from other illnesses, where medication is often considered first. Typically, treating BPD involves up to 2 weekly private sessions with a mental health counselor, coupled with a weekly skills training group. As with all therapy, it’s imperative that people feel comfortable with and trust their therapist, as well as being willing to put in the difficult personal work.
Some BPD symptoms are easier to treat than others. Fears of abandonment, involvement in intense, unstable relationships, or feelings of emptiness are often hardest to change. However, studies show that treatment can be quite effective in decreasing anger, suicidal thoughts and attempts, and self- harming behavior/actions. Treatment can also improve overall functioning and social adjustment.
It’s possible that even though one’s BPD symptoms may improve with treatment, people may still have issues related to co-occurring disorders, such as depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, or post-traumatic stress disorder. However, the good news is that research suggests that the frequency and/or intensity of a person’s BPD symptoms remain decreased after treatment.
Common Treatment Methods for Borderline Personality Disorder
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) focuses on the concept of mindfulness, or paying attention to the present emotion. DBT teaches skills to control intense emotions, reduce self-destructive behavior, manage distress, and improve relationships. It seeks a balance between accepting and changing behaviors. This proactive, problem-solving approach was designed specifically to treat BPD. Treatment includes individual therapy sessions, skills training in a group setting, and phone coaching as needed. DBT is the most studied treatment for BPD and the one shown to be most effective.
Mentalization-based therapy (MBT) is a talk therapy that helps people identify and understand what others might be thinking and feeling.
Transference-focused therapy (TFP) is designed to help patients understand their emotions and interpersonal problems through the relationship between the patient and therapist. Patients then apply the insights they learn to other situations.
Good Psychiatric Management: GPM provides mental health professionals an easy-to-adopt “tool box” for patients with severe personality disorders.
Medications cannot cure BPD but can help treat other conditions that often accompany BPD such as depression, impulsivity, and anxiety. Often patients are treated with several medications, but there is little evidence that this approach is necessary or effective. People with BPD are encouraged to talk with their prescribing doctor about what to expect from each medication and its side effects. 1
Self-Care activities include: regular exercise, good sleep habits, a nutritious diet, taking medications as prescribed, and healthy stress management. Good self-care can help to reduce common symptoms of BPD such as mood changes, impulsive behavior, and irritability.