FPIN's Help Desk Answers

Pharmacologic Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder

 

Am Fam Physician. 2019 Mar 1;99(5):online.

Clinical Question

Are any medications effective in the treatment of borderline personality disorder?

Evidence-Based Answer

There is no pharmacotherapy regimen that improves the overall symptoms of borderline personality disorder. When used for six months or less, antipsychotics can improve paranoia, dissociation, mood lability, anger, and global functioning. (Strength of Recommendation [SOR]: B; based on a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials [RCTs].) When used for six months or less, aripiprazole (Abilify), olanzapine (Zyprexa), lamotrigine (Lamictal), topiramate (Topamax), omega-3 fatty acids, and valproate (Depacon) can decrease anger, anxiety, depression, and impulsivity. (SOR: B, based on a systematic review of lower-quality clinical trials.)

Evidence Summary

A 2011 meta-analysis (11 RCTs; N = 1,152) evaluated the effectiveness of first- and second-generation antipsychotics on improving specific symptom domains of borderline personality disorder.1 Study samples ranged from 23 to 314 adults, with intervention times ranging from five to 26 weeks. All patients met diagnostic criteria for borderline personality disorder from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 3rd ed. (DSM-III). Patients with other personality or axis I disorders (psychotic, affective, or anxiety disorders) were excluded. A first- or second-generation antipsychotic (aripiprazole, haloperidol, olanzapine, quetiapine [Seroquel], or ziprasidone [Geodon]) was compared with placebo. Outcomes included the change in scores on validated rating scales and questionnaires for three primary symptom domains: cognitive-perceptual symptoms (paranoia and dissociation), impulsivity, and affective dysregulation (anger, anxiety, depression, global functioning, and mood lability). Antipsychotics had a small effect on cognitive-perceptual symptoms, mood lability, and global functioning, and a small to moderate effect on anger. Because results were pooled, individual antipsychotics could not be

Address correspondence to Justin D. Parker, MD, at jparker@siumed.edu. Reprints are not available from the authors.

Author disclosure: No relevant financial affiliations.

References

1. Ingenhoven TJ, Duivenvoorden HJ. Differential effectiveness of antipsychotics in borderline personality disorder: meta-analyses of placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trials on symptomatic outcome domains. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2011;31(4):489–496.

2. Stoffers J, Völlm BA, Rücker G, Timmer A, Huband N, Lieb K. Pharmacological interventions for borderline personality disorder. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;(6):CD005653.

Help Desk Answers provides answers to questions submitted by practicing family physicians to the Family Physicians Inquiries Network (FPIN). Members of the network select questions based on their relevance to family medicine. Answers are drawn from an approved set of evidence-based resources and undergo peer review. The strength of recommendations and the level of evidence for individual studies are rated using criteria developed by the Evidence-Based Medicine Working Group (http://www.cebm.net).

The complete database of evidence-based questions and answers is copyrighted by FPIN. If interested in submitting questions or writing answers for this series, go to http://www.fpin.org or e-mail: questions@fpin.org.

A collection of FPIN's Help Desk Answers published in AFP is available at https://www.aafp.org/afp/hda.

 

 

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