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What is borderline personality disorder (BPD)? How is it treated? Learn more about this condition and find support, treatment options, and educational resources.
Borderline personality disorder is a complex mental illness marked by unstable moods, behaviors, and relationships. People with the condition may struggle with self-image problems, feelings of self-doubt, intense fear of abandonment, and low self-worth.
Individuals with BPD often have trouble controlling their emotional reactions, which can lead to self-harm and suicidal behaviors. It is common for people with this disorder to have high rates of co-occurring disorders, such as substance use disorders, depression, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders.
It’s estimated that 1.6% of the adult U.S. population has BPD, but it may be as high as 5.9%. Nearly 75% of people diagnosed with the condition are women, but recent research suggests that men may be almost as frequently affected. In the past, men with BPD were often misdiagnosed with PTSD or depression.
We’re here to help you or your loved one. Call us today at 877.372.3068.
At McLean Hospital, we know what it means to have borderline personality disorder, and we are here to help. We combine the highest quality care, research, and clinical training to provide unparalleled specialty services for adolescents and adults living with BPD. Offering individual and family services that have proven results, McLean has specialized residential and partial hospital (day) programs and outpatient care—as well as an array of treatments for coexisting diagnoses and symptoms such as depression, anxiety, addiction, and trauma.
Learn more about McLean’s world-class approach to borderline personality disorder care.
At McLean, we offer borderline personality disorder treatment options for teens and adults on our main campus in Belmont, Massachusetts and other satellite locations nearby.
3East: Adolescent DBT Programs
McLean’s adolescent dialectical behavior therapy programs, collectively known as 3East, provide specialized care for teens and young adults who require treatment for depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and emerging borderline personality disorder. The programs in the 3East continuum are specifically designed to accommodate patients in different phases of the treatment and recovery process, from highly focused residential treatment to outpatient care. We have intensive treatment tracks for both boys and girls, and our day program (partial hospital) and outpatient program are coed.
Gunderson BPD Programs
The Gunderson programs—Gunderson Residence and Gunderson Outpatient Program—offer highly specialized therapeutic approaches for individuals with borderline personality disorder and other severe personality disorders, including those who experience co-occurring psychiatric conditions such as substance use, eating disorders, depression, or anxiety. These self-pay programs are best suited to those who have BPD and other complex personality disorders, who are seeking treatment for core issues related to personality disorders such as emotion dysregulation, self-harm, suicidality, and relationship difficulties, and who struggle with self-image problems, feelings of self-doubt, intense fear of abandonment, and low self-worth.
Hill Center for Women
This insurance-based program offers psychiatric and psychological services for women with histories of trauma and related disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, dissociative disorders, borderline personality disorder, and mood and anxiety disorders. Empathy, compassion, collaboration, and empowerment are emphasized in order to help women build strength and regain control of their lives. The program provides intensive dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) with a specialized emphasis on the treatment of self-destructive or impulsive behavior and emotional dysregulation as they present in survivors of early, repeated traumatic experiences. Both residential and partial hospital (day program) levels of care are available.
Behavioral Health Partial Hospital Program
This day program helps individuals to develop skills that improve their mood and ability to function in hopes of allowing them to better cope with life circumstances. To achieve this mission, the BHP utilizes cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) approaches (including dialectical behavior therapy skills) for a wide range of conditions such as mood and anxiety disorders, depression, personality disorders, bipolar disorder, and substance use disorders. BHP is useful as a step-down transition from acute inpatient care or as an alternative to inpatient treatment.
Why should you choose McLean for your mental health care? Let us show you.
Find more information about BPD treatment at McLean:
Mental health experts agree that the name “borderline personality disorder” can be misleading; however, a more accurate term does not yet exist. The good news is that when BPD is accurately diagnosed, treatment can be successful and individuals can go on to lead meaningful and productive lives.
Learn more about the signs and symptoms of BPD and find access to helpful resources and articles.
McLean Hospital has been at the forefront of BPD research. Our researchers have provided critical insight into the causes and treatment of the disease and today continue to look for more knowledge on the disorder in order to find improved treatment methods.
John G. Gunderson, MD, was a pioneer in borderline personality disorder research. His seminal studies on BPD helped transform the diagnosis from a psychoanalytic construct into a scientifically proven and internationally recognized disorder and earned him recognition as the “father” of this disorder. He also developed the evidence-based therapy general psychiatric management (GPM), which he and fellow McLean clinicians teach throughout the country.
Lois W. Choi-Kain, MEd, MD, is the director of the Gunderson Personality Disorders Institute at McLean Hospital. Her areas of specialization include attachment, personality disorders, and psychotherapy, along with an integration of evidence-based treatments for BPD. In addition to her clinical work, she actively conducts research and publishes papers on BPD while also providing training for clinicians in general psychiatric management (GPM) and mentalization-based treatment (MBT) approaches.
Mary C. Zanarini, EdD, is the director of the Laboratory for the Study of Adult Development, which has been a part of many landmark discoveries in the field of BPD research. Her group of clinician-scientists was integral to the validation of BPD as a psychiatric disorder, and their work has also led to a now widely held theory of the causes of BPD. Dr. Zanarini has created numerous scales for assessing BPD in individuals and is a lead investigator in a number of longitudinal studies collecting research data on BPD over time.
Looking for information on another mental health condition? Visit one of these pages to find out more.
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