How Borderline Personality Disorder Is Treated
What Is BPD?
Borderline personality disorder can be difficult to understand. Even for experts it can sometimes be hard to recognize and diagnose. Diagnosis is particularly difficult in teens and young adults because many of the symptoms are similar to normal adolescent behaviors and mood swings. BPD is a mental illness that is mainly characterized by emotional instability. Someone with BPD has difficulty regulating his or her emotions and moods and this leads to several symptoms and behaviors typical of the disorder:
- Impulsive and risky behaviors
- Suicidal thoughts and actions
- Extreme mood swings
- Episodes of intense depression, anxiety or anger
- Inappropriate reactions
- Unstable relationships
Psychotherapy for BPD
A cornerstone of BPD treatment is psychotherapy, which includes several different types. If you need treatment for BPD, you will work with a therapist and use a strategy that gives you the best results:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy. This includes learning to recognize troubling thoughts and actions and striving to change them.
- Dialectical behavior therapy. This kind of therapy focuses on mindfulness, or striving to be aware in the present. You learn to control your emotions and react better in certain situations.
- Schema-focused therapy. This strategy uses cognitive behavioral therapy techniques to teach you how to change the way you view yourself. It assumes that with BPD you suffer from a distorted self-image.
- Transference-focused therapy. This type of therapy focuses on developing a healthy relationship between the patient and the therapist. You then use this as a model for creating better relationships with other people.
- Mentalization-based therapy. This approach involves learning to think before acting or reacting and helps you learn to separate your own thoughts and emotions from those around you.
Medications and Alternative Therapies
There are no drugs that can cure BPD or treat it without the use of therapy. However, some patients benefit from using medications that address specific symptoms along with regular psychotherapy. This could include drugs that reduce depression or anxiety or even anti-psychotic medications. When using drugs with BPD, you and your doctor must discuss the balance between the benefits and the side effects. It is also crucial that you understand that medications are never a substitute for therapy, which is the most effective treatment for BPD.
There aren’t a lot of alternatives for treating BPD and there is no substitute for psychotherapy, but a small study has shown that supplementing your diet with omega-3 fatty acids can have some benefits. The study found that women with BPD who were given these supplements experienced a reduction in symptoms of depression and aggression. There were no side effects, so adding more omega-3 fatty acids is a strategy that can’t hurt.
Borderline personality disorder can be both confusing and frustrating. Whether you struggle with it or someone you love does, the impact can be life-altering. Getting the right kind of therapy and supplementing it with medications as appropriate is crucial to being able to live a normal and happy life.