Current and emerging medications for borderline personality disorder: is pharmacotherapy alone enough?

Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2020 Jan;21(1):47-61. doi: 10.1080/14656566.2019.1686482. Epub 2019 Nov 6.


Introduction: The treatment of borderline personality disorder (BPD) remains an open question for clinicians. There is scarce evidence available and the guidelines' conclusions diverge. Together with these factors, the complexity of BPD generates uncertainty in day-to-day practice. This narrative review aims to provide an overview of advances in BPD treatment and posit a critical opinion based on clinical evidence and practice.Areas covered: The authors review the clinical trials concerning the efficacy of the main classes of drugs in BPD: antidepressants, mood stabilizers, first-, second-, and third-generation antipsychotics, and other agents (opiate antagonists, clonidine, oxytocin, omega-3 fatty acids). They also include in this review studies on combinations of drugs and psychotherapies.Expert opinion: An individualized, tailored pharmacotherapy for BPD that targets the prominent symptom clusters can improve relevant aspects of the clinical picture. However, no medication is indicated to treat the global psychopathology of BPD. Polypharmacy should be avoided or strictly limited. To date, pharmacotherapy alone does not suffice to manage the complexity of BPD. Combining medication with psychotherapy may improve specific BPD symptom dimensions. In particular, it may help those aspects that respond slowly or not at all to monotherapy.

Keywords: Borderline personality disorder; antidepressants; antipsychotics; combined therapy; mood stabilizers; pharmacotherapy; psychotherapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antimanic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / therapy*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Polypharmacy
  • Psychotherapy / methods*


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Antimanic Agents
  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3