Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) affects over 5 million Americans. This mental health condition comes with a myriad of challenging and often overwhelming symptoms, such as intense outbursts, suicidal ideations, legal troubles, self-harm habits, destructive interpersonal tendencies, and a host of emotions such as loneliness, hopelessness, numbness and anger. Different BPD symptoms require different types of treatment, because some symptoms are more challenging to treat than others.
Because of the sheer weight of the challenges associated with BPD, a lot of people who receive this diagnosis may be left feeling desperate for resources, solutions and treatments to mitigate their symptoms. This anxiety or concern is normal. Luckily, decades of development surrounding treatment for BPD mean that there are a number of options available to those with this condition. Here are just a few.
Talk therapy is usually the first recourse for anyone struggling with BPD. This is the most well-known type of therapy, and simply constitutes weekly sessions with a licensed mental health provider to discuss symptoms, solutions, and ways to adjust perspective and patterns in order to move forward in healthy, constructive ways. If talk therapy is working well for the patient, it is unlikely they will need additional support or medication.
The second most commonly used type of therapy for BPD is a form of psychotherapy known as DBT, which was actually developed in the 1980’s specifically for this disorder. This therapy style helps those living with BPD to develop mindfulness in order to decrease the intensity of emotions, reduce their likelihood of self-destructive choices, improve the health of their interpersonal relationships, and manage stress. It most often includes both individual and group therapy sessions in order to develop social skills and practice the techniques in real-time.
This form of therapy targets a patient’s understanding of their emotions, helping them to dive deep into the foundation of their worldview and perspective in order to dissect the reasoning behind intense feeling. TFP is mostly practiced directly between patient and therapist in order to cultivate better behavioral choices in the outside world.
Less well-known than other forms of therapy for BPD, MBT is still a viable option for those living with BPD symptoms. This is actually another form of talk therapy, but it focuses most on teaching the patient to understand the feelings, opinions, and thoughts of others. In developing a greater sense of empathy and understanding for other people, those with BPD can begin to demonstrate healthier emotional regulation and communication habits.
One way to support your BPD treatment protocol is with healthy self-care habits. Doing your best to maintain healthy eating, exercise, and sleep patterns can significantly reduce your symptoms and create a more positive, mindful experience as you navigate life with BPD.
While it may be tempting to dive headfirst into medication for BPD, the reality is that therapy is usually the first best choice to explore once diagnosed with this condition. Medication can help treat coexisting conditions of BPD, such as anxiety, impulse control, and depression, but it is not a cure-all for BPD as a condition. Medication can also come with significant side effects, so it’s important to talk to your doctor about any concerns before adding medication to your BPD treatment protocol.
Now that you’re aware of the wide variety of treatment options available for BPD, where do you start? There’s actually a powerful and viable option that encompasses all of these treatment options into one cohesive solution, called group therapy. This type of therapy can be experienced online or in-person, and provides added benefits specifically for those with BPD.
One of the greatest challenges for anyone living with BPD is building healthy relationships, both at work, in romantic partnerships, and with friends and family. The intense and often volatile nature of emotional symptoms associated with BPD make it difficult to maintain and nurture connection. For this reason it becomes super important for those working through BPD symptoms to practice their treatment techniques in a safe, supportive environment.
In-person or online group therapy for BPD offers the benefits of mental health supervision from a licensed therapist, along with the community support, encouragement, and opportunity to practice better behaviors and communication techniques required for a healthier future. This is one of the best therapy options available for those navigating the challenges of life with BPD.