Side Effects: Medication for Borderline Personality Disorder
Medication for borderline personality disorder affects each patient differently, so it is important to be aware of the possible side effects that you may encounter. Be sure to ask your doctor about any medications that should not be taken in combination with medication for borderline personality disorder and keep track of any side effects that you experience.
Borderline personality disorder is a complex and deep-seated condition. Researchers have found mixed results with pharmaceutical interventions for borderline personality disorder, so the initial stages of treatment may require you to try a few different medications or dosages to find one that works well for you. There are no medications designed to treat borderline personality disorder specifically, but a doctor may prescribe medications to help with the symptoms of the condition, such as mood swings and depression.
Some common medications prescribed to patients with borderline personality include:
- Mood stabilizers
Your doctor or therapist will also recommend psychotherapy in addition to medication for borderline personality disorder. Research has shown that patients do best when psychotherapy is a key component of the treatment plan.
Possible Side Effects
There are numerous different antidepressant medications on the market today that may help individuals with borderline personality disorder. Most antidepressants come with the same set of possible side effects, including:
- Weight gain
- Trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or waking up
- Sexual problems such as decreased interest in sex or sexual dysfunction
Many people find that these side effects wear off over time as their bodies adjust to the medication. Also, it is important to note that most antidepressant medications take two to six weeks to reach their full effect, so it may take time for you and your doctor to determine if a specific antidepressant medication is right for you.
Another type of medication often prescribed for borderline personality disorder symptoms is antipsychotics. Antipsychotics can help someone with borderline personality disorder gain control over extreme mood swings or other symptoms that are not manageable with antidepressants or mood stabilizers. However, antipsychotics may cause the following side effects:
- Blurry vision
- Dry mouth
- Low blood pressure
- Low white cell count or difficulty fighting infection
- Muscle rigidity
- Muscle spasms
- Nausea or vomiting
- Tremors or tics
- Weight gain
Most of these side effects go unnoticed or are treated with simple lifestyle changes – such as drinking more water for dry mouth or eating more fiber for constipation. However, some of these side effects are serious and may conflict with pre-existing medical conditions or other medications. It’s important to tell your doctor about any symptoms you’re feeling, any pre-existing conditions you have and any other medications or vitamins that you take.
Mood stabilizers help to minimize the extreme swings from one emotion to another some people experience. Some side effects that may accompany use of mood stabilizers include:
- Changes in vision
- Excessive thirst
- Frequent urination
- Irregular heart beat
- Itching or a rash
- Loss of coordination
- Nausea or vomiting
- Slurred speech
- Tissue swelling
- Tremors in the hands
Though most medications come with side effects, they may be minimal or the benefits of certain medications may outweigh these side effects. Borderline personality disorder is a complicated condition, but by working with your doctor and a therapist, you can find a treatment plan that works for you.
Martinho, E., Fitzmaurice, G. M., Frankenburg, F. R. & Zanarini, M. C. (2014). Pro Re Nata (As Needed) Psychotropic Medication Use in Patients With Borderline Personality Disorder and Subjects With Other Personality Disorders Over 14 Years of Prospective Follow-Up. Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, 34(4), 499-503.
National Institute of Mental Health. (2016). Mental Health Medications. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/mental-health-medications/index.shtml#part_149866
National Institute of Mental Health. (2016). Borderline Personality Disorder. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/borderline-personality-disorder/index.shtml#part_145390
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2016).Depression: FDA-Approved Medications May Help. http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm095980.htm
U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2016). Antidepressants. https://medlineplus.gov/antidepressants.html
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