BPD and Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills: Reducing Suicide-Related Concerns

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Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental illness categorized as having difficulty regulating emotions, difficulty controlling behaviors, and holding an unstable sense of self. People with BPD often experience emotions intensely and for extended periods of time, making it rather difficult for them to return to a foundational baseline after a particularly upsetting event. If you have BPD, you may experience symptoms of insecurity, impulsivity, feelings of worthlessness, and more, which can greatly affect your daily life. Unfortunately, there is much stigma associated with BPD, and between these and the symptoms experienced with the disorder, individuals with BPD are prone to self-injury and suicidal behaviors.

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) which has been used to help treat those with BPD. The primary goal of DBT is to transform negative thinking and destructive thought patterns into more positive outcomes, such as building skills to better regulate emotions, reduce stress and anxiety, build self-management skills, control destructive habits, and more. Despite all of these wonderful outcomes, how does DBT address suicidal thoughts and behaviors specifically? One study sought to explore this very question.

A 2015 study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry analyzed the results of 99 women who were diagnosed with BPD and had previously had 2 suicide attempts and/or acts of self-injury within the past 5 years, attempts within the past 8 weeks before the study was conducted, and a suicide attempt within the past year. Participants were placed in either a standard DBT treatment program, a DBT skills training program, or a DBT individual therapy program. Results from the study indicated that while DBT is an effective form of support for those with BPD who are struggling with self-injury and/or suicidal behaviors, DBT skills training may lend itself the most to outcomes related to this area of concern. What skills are taught in DBT skills training? The following are just a few:

  • Identifying and labeling emotions
  • Identifying obstacles to changing emotions
  • Increasing positive emotional events
  • Increasing use of mindfulness
  • Applying distress tolerance techniques

DBT as a whole is excellent at helping those with BPD, but skills training may be particularly useful if you are struggling with severe depression, self-injury, and suicidal behaviors. Don’t wait any longer to seek the help you need. Recovery is possible.

Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery center. If you are ready to seek treatment to develop the tools you need to overcome life’s obstacles and be on the road towards happiness, health, and well-being, call us today at 888-958-7511 for a consultation. It’s never too late, and there are people here ready to help you.




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