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Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic, mental disorder. As defined by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH), “borderline personality disorder is an illness characterized by an ongoing pattern of varying moods, behavior, and self-image.” It is highly common for individuals with BPD to lack the ability to foster and maintain meaningful, lasting relationships. Although the cause of borderline personality disorder remains unknown, research “suggests that genetics, brain structure and function, and environmental, cultural, and social factors play a role, or may increase the risk for developing a borderline personality disorder.” A borderline personality disorder is notoriously known as an illness that is exceedingly difficult to diagnose, as it is one of the most commonly misdiagnosed mental health conditions in America. To secure the most effective treatment an individual must obtain an accurate diagnosis from a qualified mental healthcare provider. The treatment for BPD often includes long-term participation in one or more psychodynamic models of psychotherapy.


Every individual is unique, and each will require a customized treatment plan that is often comprised of a variety of treatment methods. To accommodate the needs of an individual diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, a treatment plan may include a combination of different psychotherapeutic modalities, such as:

  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT): was developed specifically to treat individuals with BPD. It is a form of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) that places greater emphasis on the psychosocial aspect of treatment. DBT focuses on how one’s thoughts and beliefs can lead to actions and behaviors. This skills-based approach teaches how to manage emotions, tolerate distress, and improve relationships through group and individual therapy sessions.
  • Schema-focused therapy: incorporates aspects of CBT and psychoanalytic theories. It helps to identify unmet needs that have led to unhealthy ways of thinking about the world. Conducted in an individual setting or group setting, schema-focused therapy challenges maladaptive beliefs and behaviors and focuses on promoting positive life patterns.
  • Mentalization-based therapy (MBT): emphasizes thinking before reacting. This is accomplished by helping an individual identify his or her own thoughts and feelings and creating an alternate perspective on the situation.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to approve a medication explicitly designed to treat borderline personality disorder. There are, however, certain medications that can help to alleviate and/ or reduce some of the symptoms arising from BPD or co-occurring disorders (e.g., depression, anxiety, etc.). Common examples of types of medication prescribed as a component of one’s BPD treatment plan include:

  • Antidepressants: Celexa (citalopram), Prozac (fluoxetine)
  • Anticonvulsants/ mood stabilizers: Topamax (topiramate), Lamictal (lamotrigine)
  • Anti-anxiety medications/ anxiolytics: Lexapro (escitalopram), Zoloft (sertraline)
  • Antipsychotics: Rexulti (brexpiprazole)

Although BPD is a chronic condition, there are a variety of treatment options available to a person diagnosed with a borderline personality disorder. Treatment for BPD will help an individual learn strategies, techniques, and tools to effectively manage the symptoms associated with borderline personality disorder, reducing the severity of symptoms experienced and enhancing one’s quality of life.

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, or give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

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