Clonidine in Acute Aversive Inner Tension and Self-Injurious Behavior in Female Patients With Borderline Personality Disorder

Alexandra Philipsen, MD; Harald Richter, PhD; Christian Schmahl, MD;Julia Peters, MD; Nicolas Rüsch, MD; Martin Bohus, MD; and Klaus Lieb, MD

Published: October 15, 2004

Article Abstract

Background: States of strong aversive inner tension and dissociative symptoms are clinical hallmarks of borderline personality disorder and major reasons for self-injurious behavior, a severe clinical condition for which there are no established pharmacologic treatment options.

Method: The acute effect of 75 and 150 mg of clonidine administered orally in acute states of strong aversive inner tension and urge to commit self-injurious behavior was examined in 14 female patients meeting DSM-IV criteria for borderline personality disorder. Before and 30, 60, and 120 minutes after administration of clonidine, aversive inner tension and dissociative symptoms were assessed using a self-rating instrument for aversive inner tension and dissociation (Dissociation-Tension-Scale acute), and the urge to commit self-injurious behavior and suicidal ideations were assessed using self-rating Likert scales. Blood pressure and heart rate were monitored during the trial.

Results: Aversive inner tension and urge to commit self-injurious behavior before administration of clonidine were strong. After administration of clonidine in both doses, aversive inner tension, dissociative symptoms, urge to commit self-injurious behavior, and suicidal ideations significantly decreased. The strongest effects were seen between 30 and 60 minutes after drug intake and correspond to the pharmacokinetics of clonidine with maximum plasma concentrations after 1 hour. Blood pressure and aversive inner tension and dissociative symptoms were positively correlated before and after administration of clonidine.

Conclusion: Orally given clonidine may be effective for treatment of acute states of aversive inner tension, dissociative symptoms, and urge to commit self-injurious behavior in female patients with borderline personality disorder. Further placebo-controlled studies with larger populations are needed to confirm this finding.

Volume: 65

Quick Links: Personality Disorders

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