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Coping with BPD

Definition: Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a complex and serious mental disorder characterized by instability in emotions and relationships, impulsivity and maladaptive behavior.


Signs and Symptoms:

The core symptoms common to most people with BPD are as follows:

  • Poorly regulated and excessive emotional reactions 
  • Self-destructive, impulsive behavior 

  • Poor self-image and impaired reasoning 
  • Markedly unstable, intense and difficult relationships 
  • Short-lived psychotic-like distortions of perception or belief, especially under stress



  • Hospitalization is an immediate source of crisis intervention for people who suffer from borderline personality disorder because they so often visit hospital emergency rooms and are sometimes seen on inpatient units because of severe depression. Partial hospitalization or a day treatment program allows the individual to gain support and structure from a safe environment for a short time, or during the day, and returning home in the evening. 

  • Medications. While medications do not cure BPD, some medications may be helpful in managing specific symptoms. Anti-depressants are used to alleviate the symptoms of depression and Valium is used for anxiety. Low doses of antipsychotic drugs may be useful during brief reactive psychoses, but they are usually not essential adjuncts to the treatment regimen, since such episodes are most often self-limiting and of short duration. 

  • Dialectical Behavioural Therapy is the most well researched and effective treatment for BPD. DBT focuses on teaching coping skills to control intense emotions and self-destructive behavior, and encourages practicing mindfulness (e.g., meditation, regulated breathing and relaxation). It is a comprehensive approach that is most often conducted within a group setting. 


  • Transference-Focused Psychotherapy (TFP). This therapy is geared primarily at understanding the underlying causes of the patient's borderline condition and working to build newer, healthier ways of thinking and behaving for the patient. In these types of therapy, it is presumed that the patient’s feelings about important people in his life (such as parents or caregivers) are transferred onto the therapist, so that he comes to feel about and reacts to the therapist as he would to these important figures in his life. 

Coping Methods:

Here are strategies for coping with borderline personality disorder:-

  • Simplify your life. Cut back on obligations when possible, and set reasonable schedules for goals. 


  • Write in a journal to express pain, anger, fear or other emotions. 


  • Read reputable self-help books and consider talking about them to your doctor or therapist. 


  • Practice Benign Interpretation. For any given event or situation there are an infinitive number of possible interpretations. Try to take the most benign or generous interpretation of an ambiguous situation rather than a malignant or suspicious view. If there are several choices you could make in deciding what something means, choose the most optimistic one.


  • Don't become isolated. Try to participate in normal activities and get together with family or friends regularly.


  • Take care of yourself by eating a healthy diet and getting sufficient sleep. 


  • Join a support group for people with your type of personality disorder so that you can connect to others facing similar challenges. 


  • Stay focused on your goals. Recovery from a personality disorder is an ongoing process. Stay motivated by keeping your recovery goals in mind. Remind yourself that you're responsible for managing your illness and working toward your goals. 


  • Learn relaxation and stress management. Try such stress-reduction techniques as meditation, yoga or tai chi. 


  • Structure your time. Plan your day and activities. Try to stay organized. You may find it helpful to make a list of daily tasks. 


  • Time your big decisions. Don't make important decisions when you're in the depths of a personality disorder, since you may not be thinking clearly. 


  • Stay away from alcohol. For the borderline drinking alcohol can be like throwing gasoline on a fire. All the worst feelings can come to the surface. Alcohol has a way of getting the borderline in trouble and often results in shame and guilt later. Unfortunately alcohol or other substances are often abused by those with BPD. 


  • Exercise. Exercise is the answer for so many and the borderline is no exception. In addition to the beneficial effect on our bodies, exercise is a great stress burner and can be great way of distracting your thoughts.


  • Find the right Antidepressant (SSRI) Depression, anxiety, and feelings of emptiness are very common with BPD. SSRI medications have the benefit of combating not only depression and anxiety but are also effective for quieting obsessive thinking. It can often be a tedious process of trial and error to find the one that works best for you. In addition some of these meds require as much as four weeks to achieve their maximum effectiveness. However the benefits can be well worth the wait, particularly if one is looking for relief from both depression and anxiety. 


  • Seek professional support for yourself. Borderline Personality Disorder can be devastating to even the most enduring relationships. Outside support helps to keep life in perspective and offers an appropriate place to vent frustrations and concerns.



Center for Mental Health Services
National Mental Health Information Center

PO Box 42557
Washington, DC 20015

Phone: (800) 789-2647
TTD Number: (866) 889-2647
Fax Number: (240)747-5470
Website URL:

Treatment and Research for Personality Disorder (TARA)
23 Green Street
New York, NY 10013

Phone Number: (212) 966-6514
Toll-Free Hotline: (888) 4-TARA-APD
Website URL:

National Suicide Hotline (1-800-273-8255),

Toll Free Numbers to Mental Health Clinics


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