Diagnostic relapse in Borderline Personality Disorder: risk and protective factors



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Texas A&M University


Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is one of the more common personality disorder diagnoses observed in psychiatric inpatients and outpatients. Previous studies have found that individuals with BPD may be expected to experience difficulties throughout their lifetimes and they may repeatedly return for psychological treatment. Whereas previous studies have attempted to identify various factors related to relapse in other chronically recurring disorders such as depression, schizophrenia, and substance abuse, studies examining factors associated with relapse in BPD, and personality disorders in general, are absent from the scientific literature. This exploratory study examined whether specific risk and protective factors (dynamic and/or static) identified from the general relapse literature were associated with diagnostic relapse in BPD. Results revealed that variables related to an increased likelihood for BPD relapse included: substance abuse or Major Depressive Disorder, higher Neuroticism, and lower Conscientiousness. In addition, having a steady work or school status after remission was found to protect against a BPD relapse in the presence of various risk factors. Although this study has several limitations, these results provide some of the first insights to the processes of relapse and continued remission in BPD patients. Continued research efforts in this area can help to identify individuals who are at a greater risk for BPD relapse and potentially to design effective relapse-prevention strategies for the treatment of BPD.