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BORDERLINE Personality Disorder

A pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and marked impulsivity beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

  • Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.
  • A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation
  • Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self
  • Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance
          abuse, reckless driving, binge eating).
  • Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior.
  • Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days).
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness.
  • Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights).
  • Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms.
Associated Features:
Differential Diagnosis

Some disorders have similar or even the same symptom. The clinician, therefore, in his diagnostic attempt has to differentiate against the following disorders which he needs to rule out to establish a precise diagnosis.

Cause:

The roots of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) have long been in question. There is no across-the-board agreement in the mental health profession when it comes to this question.

Treatment:

Counseling and Psychotherapy [ See Therapy Section ]

Like with all personality disorders, psychotherapy is the treatment of choice in helping people overcome this problem. While medications can usually help some symptoms of the disorder, they cannot help the patient learn new coping skills, emotion regulation, or any of the other important changes in a person's life.

The most successful and effective psychotherapeutic approach to date has been Marsha Linehan's Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Research conducted on this treatment have shown it to be more effective than most other psychotherapeutic and medical approaches to helping a person to better cope with this disorder. It seeks to teach the client how to learn to better take control of their lives, their emotions, and themselves through self-knowledge, emotion regulation, and cognitive restructuring. It is a comprehensive approach that is most often conducted within a group setting. Because the skill set learned is new and complex, it is not an appropriate therapy for those who may have difficulty learning new concepts.

Like all personality disorders, borderline personality disorder is intrinsically difficult to treat. Personality disorders, by definition, are long-standing ways of coping with the world, social and personal relationships, handling stress and emotions, etc. that often do not work, especially when a person is under increased stress or performance demands in their lives. Treatment, therefore, is also likely to be somewhat lengthy in duration, typically lasting at least a year for most.

Pharmacotherapy [ See Psychopharmacology Section ]

Antidepressant and anti-anxiety agents may be appropriate during particular times in the patient's treatment, as appropriate. For example, if a client presents with severe suicidal ideation and intent, the clinician may want to seriously consider the prescription of an appropriate antidepressant medication to help combat the ideation. Medication of this type should be avoided for long-term use, though, since most anxiety and depression is directly related to short-term, situational factors that will quickly come and go in the individual's life.

Self-Help [ See Self-Help Section ]

Self-help methods for the treatment of this disorder are often overlooked by the medical profession because very few professionals are involved in them. Encouraging the individual with borderline personality disorder to gain additional social support, however, is an important aspect of treatment. Many support groups exist within communities throughout the world which are devoted to helping individuals with this disorder share their commons experiences and feelings.

Patients can be encouraged to try out new coping skills and emotion regulation with people they meet within support groups.

They can be an important part of expanding the individual's skill set and develop new, healthier social relationships.


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