Updated: Jul 24
While a cure for Borderline Personality Disorder(BPD) still has to be found, the disorder is treatable, and with some help, it can become manageable. Several therapies are available, and medication can be prescribed when the patient is dealing with other comorbid disorders such as depression and anxiety. People suffering from BPD are advised to seek help so that they can enjoy the life they deserve.
Getting a BPD diagnosis
BPD is mostly diagnosed during late adolescence, after episodes of severe emotional instability, impulsiveness, and overall general chronic instability. Previous self-harming behavior, ER admission, and suicide attempts are also indicators for a BPD diagnosis.
The problem with recognizing BPD in teenagers is that some behaviors like recklessness, self-harm, and emotional instability can all be associated with common problems teenagers go through. The recognition of the symptoms is the first step to a diagnosis.
You might be reading this article because you have just received your diagnosis of BPD. Maybe you have been suffering for years, thinking you were different and doomed to an existence trapped between unstable relationships, unnamed emotions, and an emptiness that is hard to describe. After a diagnosis, you probably have mixed feelings regarding the future; on one side you are scared of the stigma and the fact that people suffering from BPD are deemed as “difficult”, on the other side you might feel relieved that after so much suffering you finally have an explanation for the pain.
A diagnosis is often the turning point in recovery. You might think that if there is a diagnosis and other people share the same symptoms, that most likely there is a treatment. And you are right; in this article, I will walk you through the cure and treatment for a borderline personality disorder.
Why does BPD need treatment?
A borderline personality disorder is characterized by severe emotional instability, self-image issues, paranoia, and disassociation. People that struggle with BPD have a hard time feeling comfortable with themselves, and in an attempt to self-soothe, they can indulge in drug abuse, reckless sexual behavior, and overall dangerous conduct. This all results in emotional turmoil, a characteristic in BPD that, in its worst form, can lead to self-harm and suicide attempts.
Additionally, people that suffer from BPD are often unable to manage their anger and impulsiveness. They struggle with self-awareness, which makes them overly sensitive to the outside world. If that was not enough, people that suffer from BPD often fear abandonment, which either leads them to be alone (something problematic when having BPD) or stuck in unstable relationships that emotionally drain both partners.
Can Borderline Personality Disorder be treated?
As most diagnoses are made after the age of 18, proper treatment only starts in early adulthood. Despite the severity of this illness, it is considered a condition with a good prognosis; it is thought to improve with time, as after 2 years, around 25% of patients experience remission. The available treatment for BPD is overall positive.
A complication with the treatment is the frequent comorbidity with other mental disorders such as anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorders, and substance abuse disorders. When there is comorbidity with other illnesses, recovery usually takes longer. With an early diagnosis and treatment, a further establishment of dangerous behaviors can be prevented.
What are some types of treatment for BPD?
There are many types of treatment that target the symptoms and causes of BPD. Listed below are the most commonly used practices:
Dialectical behavior therapy(DBT)
Designed specifically to treat BPD, dialectical behavior therapy has a problem-solving approach to control the emotional instability so common in borderliners. This therapy revolves around mindfulness, the practice of being an observer of your inner workings. Thanks to mindfulness, people can be, as the word describes, more mindful of the present moment and less carried away by worries and intense emotions. Overall, mindfulness strives to reach a higher level of balance.
DBT can be executed face to face with a therapist, in a group setting, and, if needed, through phone calls.
This type of therapy is the most studied one and also the one that is shown to be the most beneficial.
This type of treatment is a twice-a-week therapy that focuses on helping the patients comprehend their emotions and interpersonal problems through the relationship between the patient and therapist.
This type of therapy teaches people with BPD how to identify and understand the potential thoughts and emotions of others so that they can respond more appropriately.
Emotion Regulation Therapy(ERT)
Intense emotional episodes and (self)destructive behavior result in a dysfunctional attempt to cope with the overwhelming emotional episodes. Emotion Regulation Therapy focuses on teaching patients how to deal with these emotional outbursts through mindfulness and various skills to regulate and manage their emotions. This therapy is often in a group setting.
Can medication cure BPD?
Although medication cannot cure BPD in itself, it can help with other comorbid disorders such as depression and anxiety, simplifying the overall picture. Medication can be very effective in treating these conditions and their symptoms, but it also has side effects. For this reason, patients suffering from BPD are encouraged to discuss with their doctor the benefits and side effects of medication.
Medications commonly used to treat BPD are antidepressants, antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, and anxiolytics such as benzodiazepines.
Although BPD is not a psychotic disorder, antipsychotics can help lessen paranoia and anxiety.
Self-Care to treat BPD
Even if it does not seem as important as the other therapies, self-care is essential, to say the least. With self-care, we mean a nutritious diet, regular exercise, good sleep habits, and medication (as advised by the prescribing doctor). Also, quality time with friends and family, a fulfilling job, and stress management are all essential. Without self-care, BPD symptoms can intensify.
Recovery and remission from BPD treatment