Medication and personality disorders


The use of medication to ‘treat’ people given a diagnosis of personality disorder is, to say the very least, controversial. This language suggests that it is possible, and desirable, to treat personality itself. National guidelines state that medication should not routinely be used for the treatment of people given a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder or antisocial personality disorder.

NICE Guidelines on medication and personality disorder

Guidelines from the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) state that drug treatments should not be used to treat borderline personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder or  behaviour or ‘symptoms’ associated with these diagnoses (e.g. self harm, marked emotional instability, risk taking behaviour, anger, aggression and transient psychotic behaviour).  Guidelines have not been developed for the treatment of people given a diagnosis of other personality disorders.

In addition the guidelines state that antipsychotic drugs (also known as major tranquilisers) should not be used for the medium or long term treatment of borderline personality disorder.

According to NICE guidelines the only time medication should be considered is;

  • when an individual has additional mental health problems that should be treated according to guidelines for those diagnoses (e.g. an eating disorder, alcohol dependence, depression)
  • as a short term measure (for no more than one week) during a crisis

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