Patients With Borderline Personality Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder Are Not Distinguishable by Their Neuropsychological Performance: A Case-Control Study



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Objective: Patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) exhibit a broad range of neuropsychological deficits. Studies in both groups of patients point to differences but also similarities. However, studies that compare both patient groups are missing from the literature. The present study aimed to compare neuropsychological functioning in BPD and MDD patients.

Method: Eighteen patients with BPD, 27 patients with MDD, 17 patients with BPD and MDD, and 76 healthy control subjects were included in the case-control study. Patients were treated for their disorders as inpatients of the Clinic of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy Bethel, Ev. Hospital Bielefeld (Bielefeld, Germany). All patients met DSM-IV diagnoses as assessed by trained psychotherapists within the first week of their admission. In addition to a comprehensive neuropsychological test battery, the inhibitory control of emotional stimuli was assessed. Data were collected between June 2004 and June 2007.

Results: Patients showed only a few impairments and no increased distractibility toward emotionally negative stimuli. Patients with BPD and patients with MDD were not distinguishable by the neuropsychological test results.

Conclusions: These data did not support the notion of specific neuropsychological profiles in BPD and MDD. Future research needs to clarify the overlap of symptoms between both disorders.

Prim Care Companion CNS Disord 2011;13(1):e1–e9

Submitted: March 16, 2010; accepted June 24, 2010.

Published online: January 27, 2011(doi:10.4088/PCC.10m00982blu).

Corresponding author: Thomas Beblo, PhD, Division of Research, Evaluation and Documentation, Clinic of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy Bethel, Ev. Hospital Bielefeld, Remterweg 69-71, 33617 Bielefeld, Germany (

Prim Care Companion CNS Disord 2011;13(1):e1-e9