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Improvement in borderline personality disorder in relationship to age
Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica (2009)
  • M. Tracie Shea
  • Maria O. Edelen, Brown University
  • Shirley Yen, Brown University
  • John G. Gunderson
  • Andrew E. Skodol
  • Charles A. Sanislow, Wesleyan University
  • Carlos M. Grilo
  • Emily B. Ansell
  • Maria T. Daversa
  • Mary C. Zanarini
  • Thomas H. McGlashan
  • Leslie C. Morey, Texas A & M University - College Station

Objective: It is commonly believed that some features of borderline personality disorder (BPD) improve as individuals reach their late 30s and 40s. This study examined age-related change in borderline criteria and functional impairment, testing the hypothesis that older age would be associated with relatively more improvement than younger age.

Method: A total of 216 male and female participants with BPD were followed prospectively with yearly assessments over 6 years.

Results: Participants showed similar rates of improvement in borderline features regardless of age. A significant age by study year interaction showed functioning in older subjects to reverse direction and begin to decline in the latter part of the follow-up, in contrast to younger subjects who maintained or continued improvement over the 6 years. Despite the decline, functioning for the older subjects was comparable with or slightly better at year 6 than at year 1.

Conclusion: Improvement in borderline features is not specific to the late 30s and 40s. There may be a reversal of improvement in functioning in some borderline patients in this older-age range.

  • CLPS,
  • age,
  • BPD and age,
  • construct validity,
  • Collaborative Longitudinal Personality Study,
  • FFM,
  • NEO,
  • NEO-PI-R,
  • DSM,
  • DSM-IV,
  • Axis I,
  • Axis II,
  • Personality Disorders,
  • Borderline
Publication Date
February, 2009
Citation Information
Shea, M. T., Edelen, M. O., Pinto, A. Yen, S., Gunderson, J. G., Skodol, A. E., Markowitz, J. C., Sanislow, C. A., Grilo, C. M., Ansell, E., Daversa, M. T., Zanarini, M. C., McGlashan, T. H., & Morey, L. C. (2009). Improvement in borderline personality disorder in relationship to age. Acta Scadinavica Psychiatrica, 119(2), 143-148.