There are certain types of mental illnesses that can be more stigmatized than others making it harder for people to receive treatment or be accepted by their peers. Borderline personality disorder has one of the worst stigmas in the realm of mental health, especially among clinicians.
Surprisingly, many therapists are hesitant to even treat patients with a borderline personality disorder because such a stigma exists that these patients are highly unstable and difficult to work with. According to interviews with a number of mental health clinicians, a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder can often signal healthcare providers that this patient will be more challenging and some providers will even avoid working with people in the diagnosis group.
The apprehensiveness and sometimes refusal to work with BPD patients can make it more difficult for them to receive treatment as they are often seen as though they don’t belong in the medical system.
Fears about Treating BPD
A borderline personality disorder is a mental illness that can often cause unstable moods and behavior and can make it difficult for people to maintain relationships. People with BPD have trouble regulating their emotions and thoughts and can sometimes engage in reckless behavior.
However, research has shown that outcomes can be very positive for people with BPD receiving treatment as they are able to reduce their symptoms and begin to lead more stable lives. Unfortunately in certain medical communities, concerns about treating BPD patients can make it harder for them to find help. Clinicians can be apprehensive about the level of risk associated with BPD such as non-suicidal self-harm and suicidal behavior.
In addition to these fears, therapists may be wary of patients with BPD because of the perception that they may not be able to form a relationship or therapeutic bond because of their instability. Many may hold a mistaken belief that treatment is ineffective for patients with borderline personality disorder and worry that their therapy will not help them.
Reducing Symptoms through Treatment
Because BPD has such a stigma within the mental health community, therapists in some cases may avoid disclosing a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder to their patients. Therapists may feel that they are avoiding the stigma of the disorder by not informing patients of their complete diagnosis even though the majority of patients want to know so they can openly discuss the stigma with their provider.
It is unfortunate that certain therapists carry the stigma around borderline personality disorder and have certain erroneous beliefs about treating people with BPD. The belief that treatment will not help BPD has no basis in reality because there is ample evidence showing that patients actually show improvement over time even if they don’t receive treatment consistently.
Even patients with co-occurring disorders such as depression and anxiety are able to show improvement when they are taught to develop more acceptance for their emotions. Patients that are able to tolerate their emotions rely less on poor coping mechanisms that backfire and cause more problems for them in the end.
While borderline personality disorder may have its challenges, it is by no means mental health issue that is too difficult to treat. It is important to reduce the stigma surrounding BPD by increasing understanding and looking at hard facts rather than stereotypes or hearsay.
The reality is that people with a borderline personality disorder can reduce their symptoms and improve their lives with professional treatment by a psychiatrist who is open and honest with them about their diagnosis and does not hold any stigma about their disorder. People with a borderline personality disorder can go on to live stable, fulfilling lives, and be functional members of their communities.