Reducing Adverse Polypharmacy in Patients With Borderline Personality Disorder: An Empirical Case Study



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Objective: Polypharmacy is common and especially challenging in the context of borderline personality disorder in light of impulsivity and self-harm associated with the disorder, risk of adverse drug-drug interactions, and financial burden. Reduction in polypharmacy could be conceptualized as a high priority in the treatment of borderline personality disorder. This case aims to demonstrate that potential.

Method: This case report presents outcomes data for an individual with borderline personality disorder during the course of an extended psychiatric hospitalization. Symptomatic change is based on the Patient Health Questionnaire Somatic, Anxiety, and Depression Symptoms scales and World Health Organization 5-Item Well-Being Index. Change in polypharmacy is presented both in terms of absolute number and complexity of the medication regimen. Clinical outcomes data are provided at 2, 12, and 24 weeks postdischarge.

Results: During a 56-day hospitalization, the patient demonstrated clinical improvement across clinical domains—all occurred within the context of reduced number (43%) and complexity (40%) of her medication regimen. Symptomatic improvement was sustained up to 6 months postdischarge.

Conclusions: Despite good intentions, polypharmacy can be associated with iatrogenic harm and contribute to functional impairment, especially in the context of borderline personality disorder, in which symptomatic fluctuations are part of the illness itself. A reduction in the patient’s high-risk polypharmacy during treatment represents a noteworthy treatment outcome in and of itself. Additional measures of medication risk and liability have the potential to become markers of clinical effectiveness.

Prim Care Companion CNS Disord 2015;17(4):doi:10.4088/PCC.14m01760