People who suffer from borderline personality disorder (BPD), which is characterized by unstable and volatile relationships, self destructive behavior, emotional instability and rapidly shifting emotions, like angry outbursts, appear to benefit more from a treatment approach that combines modified interpersonal psychotherapy and antidepressants rather than just antidepressants alone.
The combination of interpersonal psychotherapy and drugs had shown promising results for people with major depression and borderline personality disorder, but researchers at the University of Turin, Italy, wanted to find out if the technique would work with people who suffer with BPD alone.
Their eight-month study examined 44 patients who were split into two groups, one that received antidepressants and interpersonal psychotherapy tailored for BPD and another group that received only antidepressants. Interpersonal psychotherapy was first developed to treat major depression, but has been found to be an effective treatment for BPD. Interpersonal psychotherapy focuses on relationships in the clients life and building healthy interpersonal skills. All of the study participants received a daily 20 mg dose of fluoxetine (Prozac), a serotonin reuptake inhibitor, and could increase the dosage to 40 mg starting in week two.
All the participants were assessed at the beginning of the study, at the week 16 midpoint and at the end of the eight-month study with several questionnaires and self-reporting scales to measure their symptoms. The questionnaires examined the quality of daily life that included factors such as psychological functioning, physical functioning, work, sleep, food and free time. Another interview focused on borderline personality disorder manifestations, including feelings of abandonment, impulsivity, emptiness and outbursts of anger.
The study found the combined therapy was superior to antidepressants alone when it came to measuring anxiety symptoms, self-reported quality of life and core symptoms of borderline personality
disorder. For example, people in the combined therapy reported healthier scores when it came to interpersonal relationships, impulsive behaviors and emotional instability.
These findings are important, its authors said, because it could be a good model for responding to the growing demand for time-limited treatment of borderline personality disorder. The authors also noted that other forms of therapy, such as dialectical behavior therapy, should be studied to find the optimal therapeutic model.
If you think you’re suffering from this disorder, talk to your physician about treatment options.