Borderline Personality Disorder: Treatment

There are several specialized forms of therapy that have been developed to treat borderline personality disorder, but the treatment with the strongest evidence for its effectiveness is called dialectical behavioral therapy, or DBT. It’s called “dialectical” because it involves two things that might seem to be in opposition but are both important: the need for acceptance and the need for change.

First, a patient’s feelings are validated, or accepted without judgment. Once he feels understood and supported, he is able to learn more effective ways to manage and respond to those feelings. Skills taught in DBT include coping with difficult situations, distress tolerance and interacting more effectively with others.

Other types of psychotherapy that have been found to be effective in treating the disorder include mentalization-based therapy, schema-focused therapy and transference-focused therapy.

Medications, including antidepressants, antipsychotics and anti-anxiety drugs, can’t treat borderline personality disorder, but they may prove helpful in treating co-occurring disorders such as depression, impulsiveness or anxiety.

Hospitalization may be required for more intense treatment of adolescents or young adults who are at risk of self-injury or suicidal behavior.