Improvement in borderline personality disorder in relationship to age

Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2009 Feb;119(2):143-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0447.2008.01274.x. Epub 2008 Oct 10.

Abstract

Objective: It is commonly believed that some features of borderline personality disorder (BPD) improve as individuals reach their late 30s and 40s. This study examined age-related change in borderline criteria and functional impairment, testing the hypothesis that older age would be associated with relatively more improvement than younger age.

Method: A total of 216 male and female participants with BPD were followed prospectively with yearly assessments over 6 years.

Results: Participants showed similar rates of improvement in borderline features regardless of age. A significant age by study year interaction showed functioning in older subjects to reverse direction and begin to decline in the latter part of the follow-up, in contrast to younger subjects who maintained or continued improvement over the 6 years. Despite the decline, functioning for the older subjects was comparable with or slightly better at year 6 than at year 1.

Conclusion: Improvement in borderline features is not specific to the late 30s and 40s. There may be a reversal of improvement in functioning in some borderline patients in this older-age range.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / psychology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological / methods
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Young Adult