Researchers Look into Possibility of Treating Borderline Personality Disorder Using Psychedelics

Researchers are considering the possibility of using psychedelic drugs such as MDMA to treat Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). BPD is a debilitating mental disorder that hinders an individual’s ability to manage emotions and leads to high impulsivity; it also generally negatively affects relationships.

People with BPD often have long-term feelings of emptiness and find it difficult to form a stable sense of identity. This can result in impulsive behaviors and self-destructive tendencies, including suicidal thoughts or self-harm. Intense fear of abandonment also leads to stormy and volatile relationships characterized by devaluation and idealization of partners.

Current treatment protocols for borderline personality disorder involve psychotherapy and, in some cases, medication. Sufficient treatment can help affected individuals overcome symptoms such as unstable personal image, intense mood swings and tumultuous personal relationships.

Although scientists don’t know the exact cause of BPD, data shows that the condition often overlaps with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Prior studies have found that around 25%–60% of PTSD patients meet the criteria for BPD as well. Research has also shown that MDMA or 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine can reduce PTSD symptoms.

However, some researchers note that there is little research into borderline personality disorder treatment and especially scant research on the effectiveness of MDMA against the condition. Brown University Clinical Psychology Fellow Ann M. Inouye and her colleagues ran a study exploring the possibility of treating borderline personality disorder with MDMA.

The research team interviewed two psychologists who specialize in treating BPD with traditional approaches and two psychologists with MDMA-assisted therapy experience. After meeting with the clinicians several times and discussing their experience with MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, the researchers found that MDMA-assisted therapy is similar to dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT).

DBT is a talk therapy for people who experience intense emotions such as BPD patients. This therapy is more focused on helping patients enhance their sense of self, develop emotional regulation in social situations and foster a fulfilling life. MDMA-assisted therapy also focuses on helping patients achieve peace and fulfillment, and find purpose in their lives.

According to the study authors, both treatments have therapeutic goals that are aligned. Although both BPD and PTSD patients cope with immense trauma, the trauma in borderline disorder patients often comes from emotional attachment or emotional invalidation issues.

Even, so the similarities between the two therapeutic approaches were enough that researchers say it could be worth exploring MDMA as a potential treatment for borderline personality disorder. They concluded that their study showed there is a need for more research into the potential benefits of MDMA-assisted therapy in borderline personality disorder treatment.

The rate at which various startups such as Seelos Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: SEEL) are kickstarting R&D projects geared at commercializing psychedelics treatments suggests that these substances could be applied in the treatment of many more mental-health conditions beyond depression, PTSD and addiction.

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