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Study shows long-term success in recovery from borderline personality disorder

April 15, 2010 |  6:00 am

Borderline Borderline personality disorder has long been considered one of the toughest psychiatric disorders to resolve. There have been many questions about how to best treat the condition, which is marked by unstable relationships, unhappiness, mood changes, impulsive behavior and poor decision-making.

Advances in understanding and treating the condition have been made in recent years, however. And a new study offers hope that recovery, although challenging, can be long-lasting.

Many Zanarini of McLean Hospital in Massachusetts studied 290 hospitalized patients with BPD over 10 years. Half of the patients recovered from the disorder after 10 years of follow-up. Recovery was defined as at least two years without symptoms and both social and vocational functioning. Overall, 93% of patients achieved a remission of symptoms lasting at least two years and 86% for at least four years.

The research suggests that while it may be difficult to achieve recovery, once recovery has been attained it appears to last. While many treatments focus on symptoms, therapy should include work on improving relationships and functioning in the workplace, areas that vastly boost the odds of long-term recovery, the authors said.

The study is published online Thursday in The American Journal of Psychiatry.

-- Shari Roan

Photo credit: Wesley Allsbrook  /  For the Times