Borderline personality disorder is not a ‘death sentence’ for patients, a new study concludes.
The personality disorder can be treated and it generally improves over time even without specialised treatment.
However, early intervention in young people is the best approach.
Borderline personality disorder affects over 5 percent of people at some point in their lives.
- a history of instability in personal relationships,
- intense fear of abandonment,
- a tendency to take risks,
- an unstable sense of self: feeling lost and empty,
- paranoid thoughts and zoning out,
- and intense mood swings.
People with the personality disorder tend to think in black and white and experience intense periods of depression and anxiety.
While many believe that borderline personality disorders are not treatable, this is not true.
Psychotherapies and even time can both help to heal the disorder.
Dr Carla Sharp, the study’s first author, said:
“Like adult BPD, adolescent BPD appears to be not as intractable and treatment resistant as previously thought.
That means we should not shy away from identifying BPD in adolescents and we shouldn’t shy away from treating it.”
The study included over 500 adolescents with borderline personality disorder who were tracked for 18 months.
The results showed that most people got better over time, with or without specialised treatment.
Currently, the best treatments for borderline personality disorder are mentalisation-based therapy and dialectical behaviour therapy.
Dr Sharp said:
“We ignore Borderline Personality Disorder at our peril, because compared with other mental disorders, BPD is among the leading causes of suicidal behaviors and self-harm in young people.”
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The study was published in the journal Research on Child and Adolescent Psychopathology (Sharp et al., 2021).