Borderline personality disorder is a major mental illness, often afflicting women. Rarely mentioned by mainstream media, it is commonly discussed in mental health circles. Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is like an emotional rollercoaster. Mood can change rapidly like a light switch: one moment the person is feeling good but in the next instance, feelings of rage engulf the person.
Relationships can be destructive, engaging in risky sexual encounters. Consequently, sexual trauma is common. Establishing close relationships are challenging and filled with turmoil. (The movie “Fatal Attraction” starring Glenn Close and Michael Douglas, portrays a woman who has borderline personality disorder.) In addition, BPD involves self-injurious behaviors, like cutting, either superficially or in some cases, fatally. Attempts at suicide are common.
Medicines, like antidepressants, mood stabilizers and antipsychotics, have been tried to ameliorate the varying symptoms and behaviors. It is not uncommon to see a variety of medicines – “a cocktail” – prescribed at one time to treat BPD. Medicines, however, only marginally resolve the destructive behaviors and rapidly changing moods. Marsha Linehan, from the University of Washington, took a different strategy, with the development of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).
DBT was designed to address the emotional turmoil and resulting destructive behaviors. The program is a relatively lengthy investment, almost a year, but it is well worth the time. Participants engage in serious classroom work, involving assignments, practice and counseling. DBT helps the person modulate the emotional turmoil while helping them strengthen their rationale mind.
DBT can be provided in an inpatient setting or in an outpatient setting. A commitment to participate is necessary given the length of the program. The results are far better than any medicines alone or therapy. DBT provides the tools to help a reduce hospitalizations, substance abuse, anger and improve relationships. Ultimately it helps a person live a healthier more productive life.
For more information about DBT: http://behavioraltech.org/index.cfm.
Until next time: treat yourself and others with kindness, it’s good for your brain.