Improvement in borderline personality disorder in relationship to age

M. Tracie Shea, M. O. Edelen, A. Pinto, S. Yen, J. G. Gunderson, A. E. Skodol, J. Markowitz, C. A. Sanislow, C. M. Grilo, E. Ansell, M. T. Daversa, M. C. Zanarini, T. H. McGlashan, L. C. Morey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-148
Number of pages6
JournalActa Psychiatrica Scandinavica
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Age
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Longitudinal course

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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