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Medications For Borderline Personality Disorder

woman with borderline personality disorder

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). The National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) defines borderline personality disorder as an “illness marked by an ongoing pattern of varying moods, self-image, and behavior…[which] often result in impulsive actions and problems in relationships.” The treatment plan for an individual diagnosed with BPD is often comprised of a variety of different therapeutic modalities as well as medication. The term “borderline” was initially coined because psychiatrists believed that its symptoms hovered on the border between psychosis and neurosis. Although there is currently no FDA approved medication to specifically treat borderline personality disorder, some medications that are used for other mental health ailments have been found to be effective in reducing some systems of BPD in some cases. Every individual is different and will require a tailored treatment plan. When taking any mood altering medications, it is imperative to closely adhere to the directions of the prescribing medical professional. 


The first medications that were used in treatment plans and prescribed to individuals diagnosed with BPD were antipsychotics. Antipsychotics have been known to reduce paranoid thinking, minimize anxiety, lessen anger and/ or hostility, and reduce impulsivity in patients diagnosed with BPD. Examples of specific antipsychotic medications prescribed to individuals with borderline personality disorder include:

  • Haloperidol (Haldol)
  • Olanzapine (Zyprexa)
  • Clozapine (Clozaril)
  • Quetiapine (Seroquel)
  • Risperidone (Risperdal)


Many individuals diagnosed with BPD experience anxiety, emotional reactivity, and low mood. Antidepressants were developed to treat individuals with major depressive disorders, alleviating some of the same side effects. Common antidepressant medications that are prescribed as a component of one’s BPD treatment plan could include the following:

  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Phenelzine (Nardil)
  • Venlafaxine (Effexor)
  • Sertaline (Zoloft)
  • Bupropion (Wellbutrin)

Mood Stabilizers and Anticonvulsants

Mood stabilizers and anticonvulsant (anti-seizure) medications are used to treat the impulsive behaviors that can manifest as a symptom of borderline personality disorder. They also aid in stabilizing rapid changes in emotions that occur in individuals diagnosed with BPD. Commonly prescribed anticonvulsants/ mood stabilizers include:

  • Lithium carbonate (Lithobid)
  • Valproate (Depakote)
  • Lamotrigine (Lamictal)
  • Carbamazepine (Tegretol or Carbatrol)

Anti-Anxiety Drugs

Anti-anxiety medications are also referred to as anxiolytics. Due to the fact that intense anxiety is a common side effect of BPD, medications used to reduce anxiety may be prescribed. However, it has been reported that certain types of anxiolytics (i.e. Klonopin, Ativan) could result in worsening symptoms for some people. Hence, anti-anxiety drugs are often prescribed with caution. Common anti-anxiety medications include:

  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Buspirone (Buspar)
  • Clonazepam (Klonopin)

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