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Mar 12, 2020
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a mental health diagnosis that involves difficulty regulating emotions. When someone with BPD experiences intense stress over an extended period, it can be tough for that person to de-escalate to a “normal” level of functioning. This feeling may express itself as self-harm, unhealthy relationships, and impulsivity. Individuals diagnosed with BPD are 75% female, though professionals suspect that men are often misdiagnosed.
Characteristics of borderline personality disorder vary by the individual, but some are more usual than others, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). Here are some of the most common symptoms of BPD:
The definitive causes of BPD are not thoroughly understood, but experts agree that it’s probably multifactorial. Genetics likely play a role, as those with a close relative with BPD are more likely to be diagnosed themselves. Environmental factors, especially childhood trauma and being raised in an invalidating environment, seem to contribute to the development of BPD. Individuals with BPD may have neurological differences in the parts of the brain that control emotional regulation.
Because of the multiple factors that contribute to BPD, there is no single test to diagnose it or one single indicative symptom. Mental health professionals use a comprehensive assessment that includes a complete history of symptoms and functioning across areas.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a type of cognitive-behavioral treatment initially designed to treat those diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). It focuses on thoughts, beliefs, behaviors, and actions to reduce symptoms and enhance life functioning. DBT was the first form of psychotherapy that has demonstrated effectiveness in treating BPD through controlled clinical trials. It is now the preferred first-line treatment for this disorder with a broad base of evidence and documented success rates in reducing adverse outcomes such as these:
While DBT cannot cure BPD, it is proven effective for reducing symptoms and helping with the management of them. Research finds that up to 77% of people no longer met the criteria for BPD after one year of treatment with DBT.
DBT usually involves a combination of group and individual sessions, classroom training, and phone coaching. Patients track symptoms and the use of their new skills daily while receiving services.
The skills training portion of DBT includes four types of skills.
DBT can help clients with BPD reach positive long-term functioning. The best results involve a combination of psychotherapy, family and peer support, and medications. Reach out to Mental Health Systems (MHS) to schedule an evaluation to see if DBT can help you or someone you love.
Image Credit: Getty/ Povozniuk