Time to attainment of recovery from borderline personality disorder and stability of recovery: A 10-year prospective follow-up study

Mary C Zanarini, Frances R Frankenburg, D Bradford Reich, Garrett Fitzmaurice
American Journal of Psychiatry 2010, 167 (6): 663-7

OBJECTIVE: The purposes of this study were to determine time to attainment of recovery from borderline personality disorder and to assess the stability of recovery.

METHOD: A total of 290 inpatients who met both DSM-III-R and Revised Diagnostic Interview for Borderlines criteria for borderline personality disorder were assessed during their index admission using a series of semistructured interviews and self-report measures. The same instruments were readministered every 2 years for 10 years.

RESULTS: Over the study period, 50% of participants achieved recovery from borderline personality disorder, which was defined as remission of symptoms and having good social and vocational functioning during the previous 2 years. Overall, 93% of participants attained a remission of symptoms lasting at least 2 years, and 86% attained a sustained remission lasting at least 4 years. Of those who achieved recovery, 34% lost their recovery. Of those who achieved a 2-year remission of symptoms, 30% had a symptomatic recurrence, and of those who achieved a sustained remission, only 15% experienced a recurrence.

CONCLUSIONS: Taken together, the results of this study suggest that recovery from borderline personality disorder, with both symptomatic remission and good psychosocial functioning, seems difficult for many patients to attain. The results also suggest that once attained, such a recovery is relatively stable over time.

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