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BPD and Co-occurring PTSD Study Looks at Differences in Self-harm Among Women

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Women diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) alone attempt suicide for different reasons and with different degrees of severity than BPD patients with co-occurring Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), according to a recent study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry

Researchers examined 94 female Borderline Personality Disorder patients who had all attempted suicide in the past year. Of those, 53 women also had co-occurring PTSD. Women with both BPD and PTSD tried to hurt themselves more often but had less intent to commit suicide than women with BPD alone. That didn’t put them at less risk, however, as both groups of women made serious attempts to inflict harm on themselves. 

Trauma a Self-injury Trigger

Female BPD patients who were sexually abused as children were more likely to make serious suicide attempts than those who weren’t abused, according to researchers. Patients with both Borderline Personality Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder were nearly twice as likely to be victims of sexual trauma, such as childhood abuse, rape, or sexual harassment, than patients with BPD alone (16.6 average experiences, compared with 9.4). 

Triggers for self-injury among patients with PTSD and BPD tended to be related to trauma, including flashbacks, thoughts about their abuse, or discussing their trauma with someone else. It’s possible that women with co-occurring disorders have more triggers for self-injury and are more vulnerable to reacting to triggers than women with BPD alone.

The study may help doctors and researchers learn more about ways they can prevent self-injury or suicide among people with Borderline Personality Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Researchers can also use the study’s results to examine factors that lead some BPD patients who’ve experienced trauma to develop PTSD while others do not.

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