A Focused Systematic Review of Pharmacological Treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder

Ella Hancock-Johnson, Chris Griffiths, Marco Picchioni
CNS Drugs 2017, 31 (5): 345-356

BACKGROUND: Medicines are routinely prescribed to treat borderline personality disorder (BPD) despite a relative lack of high-quality evidence and in breach of some treatment guidelines. An earlier Cochrane review of pharmacotherapy in BPD underlined the lack of evidence, encouraged the replication of earlier studies, but also emphasised the pressing need for more randomised placebo-controlled trials, and for those studies to employ broadened inclusion criteria.

METHOD: The authors searched bibliographic databases, reference lists of articles and trials registers. Records were screened to identify those that met the inclusion criteria. Full-text articles were screened and assessed for eligibility. On-going trials of pharmacotherapy in BPD were also identified.

RESULTS: Fifteen new studies of pharmacotherapy for BPD were identified since the earlier review. Eight of those examined second generation antipsychotics, two investigated mood stabilisers, three investigated antidepressants and two studied the effectiveness of opioid antagonists. Results for the effectiveness of antipsychotics appeared to be mixed. There has been little recent evidence to support the use of mood stabilisers. There is a lack of new placebo-controlled, randomised controlled trials investigating antidepressants and limited new evidence to support the use of opioid antagonists.

CONCLUSIONS: The review revealed that there remains a dearth of high-quality research evidence to help patients, carers and clinicians make sound and safe evidence-based decisions about medicines to treat BPD.

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