There is a lot that remains unknown about borderline personality disorder or BPD. But is known is that medication, combined with therapy, can help reduce symptoms in some patients. According to the Mayo Clinic, the main types of medications used to help treat BPD are antidepressants, mood stabilizers and anti-psychotics.
It’s rare for a patient to be helped by just one drug. Many patients often have to take a combination of drugs or try several drugs before they find at least one that’s helpful. A person usually has to be on a medication for at least two weeks before their doctors or therapists can help them evaluate if they should discontinue the drug.
There are three types of antidepressants and all are used for borderline personality disorder. However, the most common type of antidepressant used for BPD is the newest class, the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs. They are better known as “the Prozac family.” Nardil (phenezine) is one of the most common of the older type of antidepressants known as monoamine oxidase inhibitors or MAOIs.
The main goal of these antidepressants is to get the patient in a regular sleep cycle and get them eating if their appetites have plummeted. Some patients also are less sad when on antidepressants, but this does not happen for all patients. Antidepressants may not address some of the more dangerous symptoms of BPD such as violent outbursts or suicidal behaviors. To fight those symptoms, a patient needs to bring in some heavier medicinal artillery.
The most common medication used in most severe mental illnesses like BPD is lithium. Although is has a reputation for turning people into living zombies, this reputation is unfounded. But it is vitally important for people on lithium to get regular blood tests because of the changes for damage to the internal organs.
As their name suggests, mood stabilizers help to stop the violent mood swings and sudden snap decisions that BPD patients can suffer from. Many were originally developed to help stop seizures and some are used off-label to help treat migraines. Other drugs of these kinds for BPD include Depakote (valproic acid) and Tergretol (carbamazepine.)
Originally developed to fight schizophrenia, a 2003 report by the American Psychiatric Association found anti-psychotics helpful for many patients with BPD. Some patients are also better to tolerate anti-psychotics than anti-anxiety medications or mood stabilizers like Depakote. But every patient is different and will react to medications differently.
The most common anti-psychotic drugs prescribed for BPD include Seroquel (quetiapine fumarate), Riperdal (risperidone) and Zyprexa (olanzapine.) These drugs are also prescribed for many other ailments, so your doctor recommends one for something other than borderline personality disorder or schizophrenia, it does not mean your doctor thinks that you are a psycho.
“The Family Intevention Guide to Mental Illness: Recognizing Symptoms & Getting Treatment.” Bodie Morey & Kim T. Mueser, Ph.D. New Harbinger Publications; 2007.
Mayo Clinic. “Borderline Personality Disorder: Treatments and Drugs.” http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/borderline-personality-disorder/DS00442/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI.) “Borderline Personality Disorder.” http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=By_Illness&template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=7671
Psychiatric News. “Antipsychotics Appear Effective for Borderline Personality Disorder.” Christine Lehmann. http://pn.psychiatryonline.org/content/38/2/18.full