Borderline Personality Disorder in Children and Adolescents

ICD-10 Code: F60.3

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is part of a cluster of diagnoses called the personality disorders.  Personality disorders are a group of psychiatric conditions that are characterized by enduring (long-term) patterns of inner experience and behavior that are significantly different from the experiences or behaviors of most other individuals in the patient's culture.  These patterns are pervasive (stable over time), inflexible, have an onset in adolescence or early adulthood, and lead to distress or impairment.

The diagnosis of personality disorders and BPD in particular in adolescents is controversial, as there is evidence that personality continues to develop throughout adolescence and into young adulthood.  Additionally, the reliability of the BPD diagnosis in adolescents has been called into question, in light of the finding that many adolescents with the disorder appear to 'outgrow' it.  Nevertheless, expert consensus is that the BPD diagnosis has clinical utility in adolescent samples and can be applied when appropriate.

What is borderline personality disorder?

BPD is a psychiatric disorder that affects approximately 3 - 14% of adolescents. 

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Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder

BPD severity can range from mild to debilitating.  In severe cases, BPD can lead to severely impaired functioning at work or school and an inability to maintain successful interpersonal relationships.  Self-injurious behaviors can lead to medical complications.  Risk of attempted and completed suicide is elevated among individuals with this disorder.


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How is borderline personality disorder treated?

There are no published guidelines for treatment of borderline personality disorder in adolescents; however, published treatment guidelines for BPD in adults include those from the American Psychiatric Association, the Society of Clinical Psychology, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.  Published guidelines for the treatment of non-suicidal self-injury and suicidal behaviors in adolescents are available from the Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology.

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