Borderline Personality Disorder Treatment

Borderline Personality Disorder: A Case Study

Angry woman

Samantha is a 28 year old married female.  Before marrying less than a year ago, she reports her friends describing her as “in love with being in love” in that she had many short term relationships.  Samantha is attractive and puts time into her appearance.  She frequently changes her style of dress and her hair color.  A few times a month, she reports getting angry and that during these times, “everything goes black.”  Her husband describes the most recent event occurred when he got stuck in traffic and was late in his arrival to dinner with Samantha.  He states, “She flew into a rage and said ‘obviously, I mean nothing to you since you can’t manage to make it to dinner on time.’  She also said that we were headed toward a divorce.”  Samantha reveals that she feels certain her husband will leave her before they reach their one year anniversary, and doesn’t believe that he or anyone truly loves her.  She remembers her father packing his bags and leaving the house when she was 8 years old and her parents got divorced.  She admits her mother and husband express concern over her drinking and time at the casino, but she feels she only drinks occasionally and going to the casino is a way to be around people and unwind.

Borderline Personality Disorder

Angry ManThere is a lot of myth and misinformation about this disorder that affects approximately six to ten million Americans.  One myth, that Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is exclusively a woman’s disorder, is perpetuated by the fact that, of those diagnosed, 75-90% are women.  This could be due to the higher rates of women seeking treatment after symptoms interfere with their ability to have healthy relationships and a happy life.  When these symptoms are present in men, they tend to act out violently and end up incarcerated.  Sometimes people confuse BPD with what was previously called Multiple Personality Disorder.   This is probably due to the way in which someone with BPD will experience rapid changes in mood or the tendency to suddenly cut off relationships upon feeling let down by the other person.  The people around the individual with BPD tend to feel that they are on very shaky ground, and that any moment they may say something that will send the person into a rage.

Characteristics of Borderline Personality Disorder

The above case study highlights many of the characteristics of Borderline Personality Disorder which are:

  • Unstable and/or highly intense relationships
  • Instability in sense of self or identity
  • Inappropriate or intense anger; Emotional instability
  • Extreme efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
  • Feelings of emptiness and/or that one is unlovable
  • Impulsivity in two areas that are potentially self-damaging (i.e. substance abuse, spending, sex, eating disorder behaviors, reckless driving)
  • Recurrent suicidal behavior (i.e. gestures, threats, or self-mutilating behaviors such as cutting)
  • Stress-related paranoid thoughts or severe dissociative symptoms

For a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder, it is necessary to meet with a mental health professional for evaluation.  According to the Fifth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, an individual must exhibit five or more of the characteristics of BPD across many different situations in order to be diagnosed with the disorder.  A pervasive pattern of instability is established before diagnosis would occur.

Increased Suicide Risk

Sad Woman

Individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder may threaten suicide on multiple occasions, and it may appear to others as a manipulative tool rather than a real threat.  It is vitally important that all threats of suicide be taken seriously.  For every 10 people diagnosed with BPD, 1 will die by suicide.  Young women with BPD are 800 times more likely to die by suicide than the general population.  If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please call the suicide prevention hotline at 800.273.8255 or dial 911.

Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder

There is hope for individuals who struggle with BPD.  Psychotherapy, particularly Dialectical Behavior Therapy and Schema Therapy, has been shown to be effective in treating BPD as the individual learns emotional regulation skills and techniques.  Because of the all or nothing thinking that accompanies the disorder, maintaining a therapeutic relationship can be challenging.  For example, the client with BPD tends to think the therapist is either the best or the worst, and this opinion can change rapidly.  Treatment through medication can also be helpful to reduce mood swings, and to decrease thoughts of suicide.  Though the intensity of BPD decreases as the individual ages, long term supports must be identified for a healthy outcome.

Seeking help for the problems associated with Borderline Personality Disorder

Treatment can help the person better manage the symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder which interfere with experiencing productive personal relationships, coping with mood state instability and dangerous and risky patterns of behavior. Often the person with Borderline Personality Disorder has other behavioral problems which affect the quality of their life. Brookhaven Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma has inpatient and outpatient treatment programs for individuals living with the problems associated with Borderline Personality Disorder. Click here to read more about our treatment programs or to contact us for further information. You can also call Brookhaven at 800-927-3974.

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