Explains borderline personality disorder (BPD), also known as emotionally unstable personality disorder (EUPD), including possible causes and how you can access treatment and support. Includes tips for helping yourself, and guidance for friends and family.
Talking therapies are thought to be the most helpful treatment for BPD, although more research is needed into the types of treatments that are most effective.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) – the organisation that produces guidelines on best practice in health care – suggests that the following kinds of talking treatments may be helpful:
NICE says that other types of talking therapy could potentially be helpful, including:
"DBT helped me hugely to understand myself and my emotions, and to learn that it's all ok. No matter what is happening... it's going to pass. For the first time in 10 years I've come off antidepressants and feel great. I won't ever be 100% stable, but I can accept myself for who I am."
Therapeutic communities are specially designed programmes where you work with a group of other people experiencing mental health problems to support each other to recover. You might live together some or all of the time, or meet up regularly.
Activities can include different types of individual or group therapy, as well as household chores and social activities. The Consortium for Therapeutic Communities provides a directory of therapeutic communities in the UK.
"I have educated myself about emotions, I have learned from books, therapy, psychologists, friends. The most important thing is that it is never too late to learn."
Psychiatric medication isn't recommended for treating ongoing symptoms of BPD. This is because there aren't any drugs that are known to be effective. However, you might take medication for other mental health problems you're experiencing.
In a crisis situation your doctor might prescribe you a sleeping pill or minor tranquilliser to help you feel calmer, but they shouldn't prescribe these for longer than a week.
"I have found the right medication regime and try to keep my life structured. It is not easy but recovery is possible."
To get treatment on the NHS you should visit your GP, who can refer you to your local community mental health team (CMHT) for an assessment.
If you receive NHS treatment, it should be in line with NICE guidelines. These say that:
You can read the full guidelines and additional recommendations for BPD in English or Welsh on the NICE website. For details of specialist services in the UK, see the UK Department of Health's personality disorder website.
"I was helpless and hopeless for a long time but when I finally got my head around the fact that only I could make a difference and that there was no magic wand, something clicked."
Waiting times for talking treatments on the NHS can unfortunately be long. If you feel that you don't want to wait, or that you would like to see a therapist who specialises in the types of experiences you have had (which is often not available on the NHS), you may choose to see a therapist privately. (See our pages on seeking private sector therapy for more information.)
"It began changing for me when one hospital suggested that there was a way forward, that I didn't have to feel so broken forever. It wasn't plain sailing from there, but just realising there was hope... and that other people had gone on to achieve amazing things really inspired me."
This information was published in January 2018. We will revise it in 2021.
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