Treatments for Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Borderline personality disorder is a mood disorder that’s defined by intense emotions. Read on to learn more about BPD.

Table of Contents

Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline personality disorder is mostly defined by intense emotions that are difficult to regulate or control. This intensity of emotions may make it difficult for people to behave normally, have stable relationships, or manage their stress and negative emotions on their own. Self-regulating emotions are particularly challenging for people with BPD. 1

Scope of BPD

BPD is more common in women than men, but that may be at least partially because of underdiagnosis and misdiagnosis in men. It’s estimated that around 1.4% of adults in the United States have BPD. Of those who have BPD, roughly 75% are women.2

However, borderline personality disorder might be a lot more common than we think it is, in part because of some myths about BPD that contribute to misdiagnosis and underdiagnosis. Those myths both lead to failure to diagnose in some populations, like men and teens, along with misdiagnosis of BPD, which most commonly leads to bipolar 2, PTSD, and other disorder diagnoses.3

Causes and Symptoms

All mental health disorders are complex, and BPD symptoms line up with enough other disorders that it can be hard to diagnose the condition correctly.

It’s important to remember that if you have borderline personality disorder, it’s not a sign of weakness. Some people are simply at greater risk of developing a disorder like this, and it’s not your fault if you do. Let’s talk about some of the potential causes of BPD along with some of the key signs and symptoms of the disorder.

Potential Causes

There are three potential causes that are noted with BPD, although there might be other causes or factors we don’t know about yet. These include:

  • Genetics: Like other mental health disorders, your genetics may have a role to play. If you have a family history of mental health disorders, particularly BPD, depression, or anxiety disorders, you may be at increased risk of developing BPD yourself.
  • Environmental Influence: Additionally, environmental factors may have a big influence on developing BPD. Many of the people who live with BPD have a childhood history of abuse or neglect, or both. People who experience abuse or neglect in childhood might be more likely to develop BPD than people who experience it later in life.
  • Brain Composition: Lastly, there are certain structural changes in the brain that are associated with BPD. Like other mental health disorders, these structural abnormalities can be the result of BPD as well as a cause of BPD. In either case, effective treatment may help reverse those abnormalities and return the brain to normal function.4

Signs And Symptoms

People living with BPD may not know that they have it, but they will typically have some signs and symptoms of the disorder, many of which are distressing and can be difficult to live with.

For instance, it’s common for people with BPD to have unstable relationships that are intense or chaotic. People living with BPD may have a lot of relationships that end suddenly, or they may have long-running relationships that have periods of intense attachment followed by periods of intense negative feelings and distance.

Additional Indications of BPD

BPD can also lead to impulsive and risky behaviors, or self-destructive behaviors like self-harm, risky sex, binge drinking, or suicidal thoughts or actions.5

Another notable sign of BPD that helps distinguish this disorder from other similar disorders are chronic feelings of emptiness or numbness, often following periods of more intense emotions. Feelings of emptiness may or may not be distressing, regardless of when they happen, but they will generally be accompanied by a feeling that the emptiness isn’t normal or that there is something wrong.

How to Be Diagnosed with BPD

Getting a BPD diagnosis can be complicated, partially because the diagnosis can be stigmatizing, which can make it harder to get appropriate care.

With that being said, BPD does require specific treatment methods and options, so it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis if that’s what you’re dealing with. Typically, there are a few steps involved in getting diagnosed with BPD, including:

  • A detailed interview with a mental health provider
  • Psychological evaluation
  • Medical history and exam
  • Discussion of your signs and symptoms

Medical Diagnosis Process

Your doctor may also want to work with you through several appointments before making a diagnosis. During that time, they will explore the possible signs and symptoms of other mental health disorders to try and make sure they’re making the most accurate possible diagnosis with your current presentation and symptoms.

You may also have more than one diagnosis that needs to be addressed. Since BPD is commonly associated with trauma, it’s also commonly comorbid with other disorders like PTSD.

Borderline Personality Disorder Treatments

There is still a lot of work being done to figure out how to treat BPD, and this condition can take a long time to resolve or may be chronic, but manageable, in treatment. There are a lot of borderline personality disorder treatments, but finding the right treatment or BPD medication can take some trial and error.

There is no single BPD treatment that’s sure to get results, and you might find a BPD treatment that handles some of your symptoms, but still need BPD medication to tackle others.


There are many kinds of psychotherapy that have proven effective for people with BPD, and you may need to use a combination of different therapeutic approaches over time to get the best results. Many of these therapies are also combined with good psychiatric management and BPD medications to help stabilize your emotions and make it easier to handle life along with the stresses of therapy.

In some cases, hospitalization may be necessary, especially if you’re dealing with a period of particularly high stress, suicidal ideation or intent, or if your emotions are getting increasingly erratic and other interventions aren’t helpful.

Psychotherapy Techniques

Psychotherapy techniques that may be helpful for BPD include:

  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
  • Schema-focused therapy
  • Mentalization-based therapy (MBT)
  • Systems training for emotional predictability and problem-solving (STEPPS)
  • Transference-focused psychotherapy (TFP)

Coping and Support

Good coping mechanisms and support systems are also critical for dealing with the worst symptoms of BPD, as well as helping make other treatments more successful. Some of the most important coping mechanisms for BPD include:

  • Calming the emotional storm
  • Learning to control impulsivity and tolerate distress
  • Improving your interpersonal skills
  • Not making assumptions
  • Keeping up a healthy lifestyle

These are just a start, and many other situation-specific coping mechanisms might help make BPD more manageable.

BPD Treatment At Soledad House

Soledad House offers a wide range of services geared toward helping women deal with and overcome mental health challenges like borderline personality disorder. We not only offer services that can make your BPD more manageable, but we also have a setting that is safe and welcoming of the full range of experiences that women have with this disorder.

Since borderline personality disorder mainly affects women, it can be helpful to recover in a women-only space that gives you the freedom to be honest, open up about difficult topics, and find people who can sympathize with your experiences. We are here to help you every step of the way during recovery, and have a range of therapists available to cater to our women-only patient load.

Reach Out Today to Begin Healing

You don’t have to manage borderline personality disorder on your own. Contact Soledad House to get the support and care you or your loved one deserve.