Studies funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) indicate that individuals with borderline personality disorder who don’t receive adequate treatment are more likely to develop other chronic medical or mental illnesses and are less likely to make healthy lifestyle choices.
Psychotherapy, sometimes called “talk therapy,” is the first-line treatment for people with borderline personality disorder. Most psychotherapy occurs with a licensed, trained mental health professional in one-on-one sessions or with other individuals in group settings. Group sessions may help teach people with borderline personality disorder to interact with others and express themselves effectively.
Two examples of psychotherapies used to treat borderline personality disorder are:
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): This treatment was developed specifically for individuals with borderline personality disorder. DBT uses concepts of mindfulness or awareness of one’s present situation and emotional state. DBT also teaches skills to help people control intense emotions, reduce self-destructive behaviors, and improve relationships.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This treatment can help people identify and change core beliefs and behaviors that come from inaccurate perceptions of themselves and others and problems interacting with others. It may help people reduce mood swings and anxiety symptoms and may reduce the number of self-harming or suicidal behaviors.
Read more on NIMH’s Psychotherapies health topic page.
Because the benefits of prescription medication for borderline personality disorder are unclear, medications aren’t typically used as the primary way to treat the illness. However, in some cases, a psychiatrist may recommend medications to treat specific symptoms or co-occurring mental disorders such as mood swings or depression. Treatment with medications may require coordinated care from more than one medical professional.
Medications also can sometimes cause side effects in some people. Talk to your provider about what to expect from a particular medication. Read more in NIMH’s Mental Health Medications health topic.
Other Elements of Care
Some people with BPD Test Online experience severe symptoms and need intensive, often inpatient, care. Others may use some outpatient treatments but never need hospitalization or emergency care.
Therapy for Caregivers and Family Members
Having a relative or loved one with the disorder can be stressful, and family members or caregivers may unintentionally act in ways that can worsen their loved one’s symptoms.
Although more research is needed to determine how well family therapy helps with borderline personality disorder, studies on other mental disorders show that including family members can help support a person’s treatment. Families and caregivers also can benefit from therapy.
Family therapy helps by:
Allowing the relative or loved one to develop skills to understand and support a person with borderline personality disorder.
Focusing on the needs of family members to help them understand the obstacles and strategies for caring for someone with the disorder.
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