DiBenedetti D, Kosa K, Waters HC, Oberdhan D. Understanding patients' experiences with borderline personality disorder: qualitative interviews. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2023 Oct 9;19:2115-25. doi: 10.2147/NDT.S423882

BACKGROUND: Patient perspectives of living with borderline personality disorder (BPD) are not traditionally captured in the literature. To overcome this gap, we explored participants’ experiences with BPD to gain a better understanding of symptoms and impacts related to the condition.

METHODS: Two experienced researchers conducted semistructured interviews with a subset of participants from a randomized controlled trial evaluating a BPD treatment. The interview study was independent from the trial. Interviews focused on participants’ experiences with BPD prior to the trial, including the symptoms and impacts of BPD. Interview transcripts were analyzed to identify dominant trends and generate patterns in the way participants described their experiences with BPD.

RESULTS: A total of 50 adults with BPD participated in the interview study. The mean age of the participants was 28.5 years (range, 18-53 years) and 72.0% were female. All participants described having difficulties with extreme emotional responses and interpersonal relationships, and most participants reported experiencing issues with self-image, impulsivity, suspiciousness/distrust, feelings of emptiness, and anger. The symptoms that were most bothersome to participants were extreme moods or emotional responses and a pattern of unstable personal relationships. All participants remarked that their BPD-related symptoms negatively impacted their interpersonal relationships, and nearly two-thirds of the sample reported that the impact of BPD on their relationships was the most bothersome. Additionally, more than half of the participants discussed impacts on work or school, memory or thinking, self-care, and financial and legal issues.

CONCLUSIONS: Participants reported that the most bothersome symptoms of BPD were those related to extreme moods or emotional responses and interpersonal relationships. Participants similarly described the impact of BPD on their interpersonal relationships as the most bothersome. Overall, participant perspectives from this study indicate that the burden of BPD is significant and new treatments tailored to patients' real-world needs are warranted.

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