Getting help for borderline personality disorder

How can I help a friend or relative who has borderline personality disorder?

If you know someone who has borderline personality disorder, it affects you, too.

The first and most important thing you can do is help your friend or relative get the right diagnosis and treatment. You may need to make an appointment and go with your friend or relative to see the doctor. Encourage him or her to stay in treatment or to seek different treatment if symptoms do not appear to improve with the current treatment.

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To help a friend or relative you can:

  • Offer emotional support, understanding, patience, and encouragement — change can be difficult and frightening to people with borderline personality disorder, but it is possible for them to get better over time
  • Learn about mental disorders, including borderline personality disorder, so you can understand what your friend or relative is experiencing
  • With permission from your friend or relative, talk with his or her therapist to learn about therapies that may involve family members, such as DBT-FST.

Never ignore comments about someone’s intent or plan to harm himself or herself or someone else. Report such comments to the person’s therapist or doctor. In urgent or potentially life-threatening situations, you may need to call the police.

What if I or someone I know is in crisis?

If you are thinking about harming yourself, or know someone who is:

  • Call your doctor.
  • Call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room to get immediate help or ask a friend or family member to help you do these things.
  • Call the toll-free, 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY (4889) to talk to a trained counselor.
  • If you are in a crisis, make sure you are not left alone.
  • If someone else is in a crisis, make sure he or she is not left alone.
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How can I help myself if I have borderline personality disorder?

Taking that first step to help yourself may be hard. It is important to realize that, although it may take some time, you can get better with treatment.

To help yourself:



  • Talk to your doctor about treatment options and stick with treatment
  • Try to maintain a stable schedule of meals and sleep times
  • Engage in mild activity or exercise to help reduce stress
  • Set realistic goals for yourself
  • Break up large tasks into small ones, set some priorities, and do what you can, as you can
  • Try to spend time with other people and confide in a trusted friend or family member
  • Tell others about events or situations that may trigger symptoms
  • Expect your symptoms to improve gradually, not immediately
  • Identify and seek out comforting situations, places, and people
  • Continue to educate yourself about this disorder.
Where can I go for help?

If you are unsure where to go for help, ask your family doctor. Other people who can help are:

  • Mental health professionals, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, or mental health counselors
  • Health maintenance organizations
  • Community mental health centers
  • Hospital psychiatry departments and outpatient clinics
  • Mental health programs at universities or medical schools
  • State hospital outpatient clinics
  • Family services, social agencies, or clergy
  • Peer support groups
  • Private clinics and facilities
  • Employee assistance programs
  • Local medical and psychiatric societies.
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You can also check the phone book under “mental health,” “health,” “social services,” “hotlines,” or “physicians” for phone numbers and addresses. An emergency room doctor can provide temporary help and can tell you where and how to get further help.



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