Expert Answers to Questions About BPD

Available with English captions and subtitles in Spanish.

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) can make everything about a person feel unstable. Whether it’s variations in mood, behavior, relationships, or thoughts, it can cause people with this condition to be quickly triggered by things others may not notice or react to. But it can also be treated effectively, allowing people to live less tumultuous lives.

So how can we recognize the condition in ourselves and others? Are there ways to determine what and when treatments will work? And is it really possible to manage triggers?

Audience Questions

Lois W. Choi-Kain, MD, MEd, discusses signs and symptoms of BPD, explains the differences between treatment options, and answers audience questions about borderline personality disorder.

  • Can you talk about what borderline personality disorder is—and isn’t?
  • Do individuals with BPD often lack empathy or have a hard time caring about others?
  • What is the average age of onset of BPD? How young can someone be with a diagnosis of BPD?
  • Do you know if anyone has looked at the prevalence of BPD among people who have been adopted?
  • How can providers help a person with BPD who is in denial of their diagnosis? What steps would you take to address this with the patient?
  • Can you please talk about the struggles around identity and security in folks with BPD?
  • When looking for a provider, what do I need to know to determine if they are using methods to effectively diagnose BPD?
  • Can you talk about what good psychiatric management (GPM) is and its practicality for treatment of borderline personality disorder?
  • What are other forms of treatment that someone with BPD can receive? Are there any FDA-approved medications for BPD?
  • How quickly can treatment start to significantly reduce symptoms of BPD? Is this person- or case-specific?
  • My daughter has been working with a DBT therapist for nearly 10 years. She exercises, does yoga, and watches her diet. She sometimes gets frustrated by all the work she feels is necessary for her to just feel normal and feels that she will never get better. And when she falls off this kind of schedule, she is overwhelmed by the amount of work that will be necessary to get back on track. It’s hard to watch her struggle. Any suggestions on how to be a supportive parent when this happens?
  • What are effective and ineffective things that the partner of a person with BPD can do to support them in treatment?
  • There seem to be a lot of support groups available for young women and adult women who struggle with BPD. What type of support is available for men with BPD?
  • Is BPD a permanent diagnosis or is it something that can be brought on by our environment?

The information discussed is intended to be educational and should not be used as a substitute for guidance provided by your health care provider. Please consult with your treatment team before making any changes to your care plan.


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About Dr. Choi-Kain

Lois W. Choi-Kain, MEd, MD, is the director of the Gunderson Personality Disorders Institute. With her mentor, John Gunderson, Dr. Choi-Kain developed a training program for general psychiatric management (GPM), a generalist treatment for borderline personality disorder (BPD) that any mental health professional can be trained to provide. She has also led a number of projects to increase access to care worldwide through teaching, supervision, and consultation.

As an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Choi-Kain actively conducts research on BPD. Her research focuses on personality disorders, attachment, psychotherapy, and accessibility of care.

Learn more about Dr. Choi-Kain.

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