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Borderline: What It Means and How to Cope

Borderline: What It Means and How to Cope

Borderline is a term that is often used to describe people who have difficulty regulating their emotions, maintaining stable relationships, and coping with stress. Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental health condition that affects about 1.6% of the population, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

People with BPD may experience intense mood swings, impulsive behaviors, chronic feelings of emptiness, and a distorted sense of self. They may also struggle with fear of abandonment, anger issues, and suicidal thoughts or actions. BPD can cause significant distress and impairment in various areas of life, such as work, school, family, and social interactions.

However, BPD is not a hopeless diagnosis. With proper treatment and support, people with BPD can learn to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. Some of the most effective treatments for BPD include psychotherapy, medication, and self-help strategies.


Psychotherapy is the mainstay of treatment for BPD. It involves talking to a trained mental health professional who can help you understand your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and teach you coping skills to deal with them. There are different types of psychotherapy that can be helpful for BPD, such as:

  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT): This is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy that focuses on teaching four core skills: mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness. DBT helps you accept your emotions without judging them, and change your behaviors that are harmful or ineffective.
  • Mentalization-based therapy (MBT): This is a form of psychodynamic therapy that helps you develop a better understanding of your own and others’ mental states, such as thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and intentions. MBT helps you recognize when you are misinterpreting or projecting your own feelings onto others, and how to correct these distortions.
  • Schema therapy: This is a form of integrative therapy that combines elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and attachment theory. Schema therapy helps you identify and modify the underlying schemas or core beliefs that shape your perception of yourself and the world. Schema therapy helps you replace your maladaptive schemas with more adaptive ones.



Medication can be used as an adjunct to psychotherapy for BPD. There is no specific medication that is approved for BPD, but some medications may help reduce certain symptoms or co-occurring conditions, such as depression, anxiety, or impulsivity. Some of the most commonly used medications for BPD include:

  • Antidepressants: These are medications that can help improve your mood and reduce feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or irritability. Some examples of antidepressants are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), or citalopram (Celexa).
  • Mood stabilizers: These are medications that can help regulate your mood swings and prevent episodes of mania or depression. Some examples of mood stabilizers are lithium (Lithobid), valproate (Depakote), or lamotrigine (Lamictal).
  • Antipsychotics: These are medications that can help reduce symptoms of psychosis, such as hallucinations, delusions, or paranoia. They can also help with anger management and impulsivity. Some examples of antipsychotics are olanzapine (Zyprexa), risperidone (Risperdal), or quetiapine (Seroquel).

It is important to consult with your doctor before taking any medication for BPD. You should also follow your doctor’s instructions on how to take the medication safely and effectively. You should not stop taking the medication abruptly or without your doctor’s approval.

Self-help strategies


In addition to professional treatment, there are some self-help strategies that can help you cope with BPD on a daily basis. These include:

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