Relationship Between Borderline Personality Disorder and Axis I Diagnosis in Severity of Depression and Anxiety

Background: This study tested the hypothesis that subjects with borderline personality disorder irrespective of the presence or absence of an Axis I mood or anxiety disorder would exhibit greater severity of depression and anxiety than subjects with either a personality disorder other than borderline personality disorder or no personality disorder.

Method: Two hundred eighty-three subjects from an outpatient psychiatry clinic were administered the following assessments: the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-III-R (SCID) for Axes I and II, the Hamilton Rating Scales for Depression and Anxiety, the Beck Depression Inventory, and the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. Subjects were categorized into borderline personality disorder, other personality disorder, and no personality disorder categories and into present versus absent categories on Axis I diagnosis of depression and of anxiety. A 2-factor multiple analysis of variance compared personality disorder status and Axis I diagnosis on severity of depression by observer rating and self-report. The analysis was repeated for anxiety.

Results: As hypothesized, significant main effects were found for borderline personality disorder and for both depression and anxiety. Subjects with borderline personality disorder showed greater severity on both depression and anxiety rating scales than did patients with another personality disorder, who showed greater severity than did patients with no personality disorder. Axis I diagnosis was also associated with greater severity on depression or anxiety rating scales. These differences were found for both observer ratings and selfreport. An interaction was also found for depression: Subjects with borderline personality disorder but without an Axis I diagnosis of depression rated themselves as more severely depressed on the Beck Depression Inventory than did subjects with another or no personality disorder who also had an Axis I diagnosis of depression.

Conclusion: Implications from the study are discussed including the need to assess for borderline personality disorder in research studies of depression and anxiety and to integrate treatments for borderline personality disorder into depression and anxiety treatment to maximize clinical outcomes.

J Clin Psychiatry 1999;60(11):752-758