Improvement in borderline personality disorder in relationship to age. Academic Article uri icon


  • 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.

published proceedings

  • Acta Psychiatr Scand

altmetric score

  • 1

author list (cited authors)

  • Tracie Shea, M., Edelen, M. O., Pinto, A., Yen, S., Gunderson, J. G., Skodol, A. E., ... Morey, L. C

citation count

  • 37

complete list of authors

  • Tracie Shea, M||Edelen, MO||Pinto, A||Yen, S||Gunderson, JG||Skodol, AE||Markowitz, J||Sanislow, CA||Grilo, CM||Ansell, E||Daversa, MT||Zanarini, MC||McGlashan, TH||Morey, LC

publication date

  • October 2008