Objective: Shared symptoms between borderline personality disorder and depression have resulted in inherent difficulties in evaluating the relationship between these disorders. Some theorists have argued that depression in patients with borderline personality disorder is qualitatively distinct from depression in nonborderline patients. The purpose of this study was to empirically identify aspects of depression most associated with borderline personality disorder.
Method: Through interview and self-report measures, the authors studied depression in 50 inpatients, 21 of whom had borderline personality disorder.
Results: The aspects of depression most associated with borderline personality disorder were self-condemnation, emptiness, abandonment fears, self-destructiveness, and hopelessness; boredom and somatic complaints exhibited no association.
Conclusions: Depression associated with borderline pathology appears to be in some respects unique, as well as distinct from nonborderline depression. The study's implications delineate the importance of considering the phenomenological aspects of depression in borderline personality disorder.