It is estimated that more than 14 million Americans have borderline personality disorder. BPD can be challenging, but with the right treatment, you can live a healthy life and enjoy stable relationships. At McLean Hospital, we know what it means to have BPD, and we are here to help.
As the #1 freestanding psychiatric hospital, according to U.S. News & World Report, McLean is a leader in borderline personality disorder care. Since other mental health conditions (substance addiction, depression, anxiety, and eating disorders) often occur alongside BPD, our expert staff focus on treating the whole person.
Leading the Way in BPD Treatment
Borderline personality disorder is a complex mental illness. Individuals experience unstable moods, behaviors, and relationships. People with BPD may struggle with self-image issues, feelings of self-doubt, intense fear of abandonment, and low self-worth.
At McLean, we are dedicated to helping you find your way to leading a full and healthy life. Our expert services combine the highest quality treatment, research, and clinical training. This allows us to provide unparalleled specialty care for adolescents and adults living with BPD.
“McLean’s expertise in the treatment of borderline personality disorder was born out of John Gunderson’s pioneering work that integrated BPD into the Diagnostic Statistical Manual,” said Lois W. Choi-Kain, MEd, MD, director of the Gunderson Personality Disorders Institute.
“As a result, a massive swell of progress in research and treatment development for BPD occurred and transformed the diagnosis from one of stigma and futility to one of hope. Our services represent the expanse of that progress, ranging from shorter-term to longer-term services, many types of reimbursement, and many different evidence-based treatment approaches.”
“There is no other hospital in the world with this degree of diversity in treatment approaches and focused dedication to advancing the cutting edge in terms of BPD’s treatment, training of professionals about the disorder, and scientific discovery to further improve our knowledge base.”
“My colleagues and I know that people with BPD struggle in silence because of lack of awareness, because they don’t have the right information or are afraid of stigma. BPD is a serious but highly treatable illness. There is no better time to start the healing process than right now.”–Blaise Aguirre, MD, Medical Director, 3East Continuum
BPD Treatment at a Glance
McLean’s BPD treatment programs provide comprehensive psychiatric and medical assessments, and individual, group, and family therapy. Customized treatment plans and aftercare planning, medication consultation, and patient education and support round out our world-class offerings.
Upon admission, each patient receives a thorough evaluation. Clinicians use these assessments to create tailored care plans and set unique treatment goals.
Patients take part in our robust group therapy programming. This structured environment helps patients work toward recovery.
Treatment focuses on methodologies proven by research. Therapies such as dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and mentalization-based treatment (MBT) are effective for BPD care.
Currently, there are no medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat BPD. When indicated, medication can be an important tool in managing specific symptoms, such as anxiety or depression. Patients meet with a psychiatrist as needed.
Support and Education
Our daily educational curriculum promotes prolonged recovery. Resources are available for patients and their loved ones.
Proven Care, Outstanding Results
McLean Hospital is at the forefront of BPD research and care. Our investigators have provided critical insight into the causes and treatment of the disease. Today, they continue to look for more knowledge on the disorder to find improved treatment methods.
McLean’s expert treatment focuses on these proven care models. Our BPD care utilizes dialectical behavior therapy, mentalization-based treatment, transference-focused psychotherapy, and other therapies.
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is the gold standard treatment for BPD. DBT emphasizes the development of four skill sets. These are mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotion regulation, and distress tolerance.
- Mentalization-based treatment (MBT) helps patients, with the goal of improving interpersonal and relationships skills and reducing self-destructive behaviors.
- Transference-focused psychotherapy (TFP) focuses on a patient’s contradictory sense of identity. This is associated with problems with interpersonal relationships, self-esteem, and mood regulation.
In addition to therapies that address BPD, group and individual therapy cover a broad range of topics. These can include mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and family issues.
The Significance of Family Involvement
Family is an important component of BPD care. Often, parents and siblings need to learn and practice the same skills as their family member with the diagnosis. With the patient’s permission, family members are involved in assessment, care, and aftercare planning.
When a person struggles with BPD, family members and loved ones often struggle as well. It’s common for family members to feel overwhelmed by their loved ones’ symptoms.
Family therapy empowers individuals and their families to work together in more effective ways. In turn, this enables better management of BPD symptoms and improves overall family relationships.
Is It BPD? Or Just Normal Teenage Emotions?
The idea that teens’ personalities are still developing has made diagnosing personality disorders in younger people controversial. But diagnosing adolescents allows them to receive the help they need before they are faced with a crisis. It also allows families to learn how to be supportive of their loved ones.
There are some major characteristics that indicate BPD in adolescents.
“Behavioral dysregulation” is shown when a teen engages in self-injury, such as cutting, burning their skin, or punching walls. Dangerous sexual behavior, substance misuse, and impulsivity are other forms of this risky behavior. For teens with BPD, these actions rarely represent a desire to get attention. Rather, they often provide a kind of relief from emotional pain.
Other signs of BPD include trouble with interpersonal relations and difficulty regulating emotions. These can be seen when a teen has trouble controlling their anger or swings quickly from angry or sad to calm. Those with BPD may also hold irrational or paranoid beliefs. Or they may feel empty or lack a sense of self.
For the adolescent, feeling things more intensely than others or feeling wronged or misunderstood could be signs of BPD. A teenager who feels strong emotions for longer periods than others or takes longer to get back to their emotional baseline may have the condition. When minor issues feel like the “end of the world” and reactions like self-harm, drug taking, or death seem to be the only way to make them stop—this can be a sign of a serious problem.
Teens with these actions and reactions should seek help for their symptoms. McLean offers specialty treatment for teens that focuses on emerging personality disorders and emotional difficulties. Contact us today to learn more about treatment options for adolescents and young adults.
A Patient’s Perspective
Brandon credits the care he received at McLean for saving his life.
Learn more about Brandon’s path toward recovery.
Boys Can Have BPD Too
For years, the general public and many in the psychiatric community have viewed mental illness in boys and mental illness in girls in very different ways.
Societal conditioning, longstanding beliefs about “normal” gender behavior, and other biases may explain why we view boys and girls through different lenses.
This gap between boys and girls is particularly pronounced in the diagnosis and treatment of BPD. The percentage of the population with BPD is about the same for men and women. However, the condition is slightly over-diagnosed in women and significantly under-diagnosed in men.
In general, boys tend to have fewer social and emotional skills than girls. This is often misunderstood and incorrectly attributed to a lack of motivation or to them having bad character. Established stereotypes about the nature of masculinity can lead to BPD being misdiagnosed or missed altogether.
In recent years, this myth that men can’t have BPD has been dispelled. Boys and young men who display signs of BPD should reach out for proper care.
McLean offers one of the only residential treatment programs for young men with BPD. Coed treatment options, as well as other levels of care, are also available. Contact us today and let us help you find the program that’s right for you or your child.