Borderline personality disorder is a group of symptoms rather than a disease; therefore medicine can only be used to target specific symptoms. Chemical imbalances in the brain that cause impulsivity or instability of mood can be regulated by medicine. There are no long-term studies of use of these medications, but it is known that the symptoms often return. While medicine is no cure for BPD, the relief of cognitive, affective and impulsive symptoms makes it possible for patients to engage in other forms of therapy, such as psychotherapy.
Early attempts of psychoanalysis proved unsuccessful; however modified versions of psychotherapy have worked well with many patients. By establishing an alliance with their therapist, patients are able to identify patterns of thoughts, emotions and behaviors that may be subconscious. Patients work on their issues through skills training. Because the first priority of all methods of treatment is to ensure that the patient is safe from harm, medications may be necessary to help regulate the mood of the patient so they can participate ideally.
What Families Need to Know
Involving the family in the treatment of BPD is proven to be beneficial for both patients and family members. All treatment involving families build on strengths and do not blame the family for the patient’s difficulties. When choosing a treatment program, it is essential that all involved have information about the effectiveness and nature of that particular treatment. Several forms of psychoeducation have been formed for patients with BPD and their families. One program focuses on the principles of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and helps the family learn skills that will improve the patient’s individual treatment. Family support groups are usually run by volunteer family members and offer information, mutual support and training in problem solving and self-care. The Family Connections Course, for example, is a 12-week program that teaches coping skills and helps to develop a support network.
Emma Harmeyer, 2012