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Mental Health Center

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Borderline Personality Disorder - Topic Overview

How is it treated?

Borderline personality disorder can be hard to treat. It's common for symptoms to return. And many people with the disorder have troubled relationships with their counselors and doctors.

But you can take steps to help control the disorder. Long-term treatment can reduce symptoms and harmful behaviors and help you better manage your emotions. Treatment may include:

  • Counseling and therapy. It's important to find a counselor you can build a stable relationship with. This can be hard, because your condition may cause you to see your counselor as caring one minute and cruel the next, especially when he or she asks you to try to change a behavior. Try to find a counselor who has special training in dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) to treat this disorder.
  • Medicines, such as antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and antipsychotics. In combination with counseling or therapy, they may be helpful in treating symptoms of borderline personality disorder.
  • Healthy habits, such as getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, getting regular exercise, and avoiding alcohol and drugs. These habits can help reduce stress and anxiety. And they can help make your symptoms less severe and less frequent.

Many people find relief from harmful symptoms within the first year of treatment.1 And about half of those treated find that they no longer have most of the behaviors after about 10 years of treatment.1

Unfortunately, many people don't seek treatment for mental health problems. They may think that their symptoms aren't bad enough or that they can work things out on their own. But getting treatment is key to improving your symptoms and the quality of your life.

People with this disorder often have other mental health problems such as depression, eating disorders, or substance abuse. Treatment can help with these problems too.

How can family and friends help? What can they do to cope?

Accepting that a loved one has a personality disorder can be hard. You may feel helpless. But there are things you can do to help. Show love, and learn as much as you can about the illness. Understand that the behavior you may see-which may include anger directed at you-is caused by the illness, not by the person you love.

Know when to get help. This disorder can cause a person to become angry, violent, or suicidal. Take these situations seriously. Call for help if you think the person may be in danger or may harm someone else.

Finding your own support is important too. Ask your local or state health department about local support organizations, or contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness. For more information, go to

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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